Football in Afghanistan

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The Afghanistan national football team (in red uniform).

Football is one of two most popular sports in Afghanistan.[1][2] Formed in 1922 and affiliated to FIFA since 1948, the Afghanistan Football Federation and the Afghanistan national football team lay dormant for many years.[3] Afghanistan took part in the 1948 Summer Olympics, playing just once in a 6-0 defeat to Luxembourg. The Afghans also appeared twice at the Asian Games.

Afghanistan did not play a competitive international match from 1984 until 2002, when it competed at the Asian Games in Busan, South Korea. In March 2003, the nation recorded its first victory in almost 20 years when it beat Kyrgyzstan 2-1 in an Asian Cup qualifying match. Sayed Tahir Shah and Farid Azami were the scorers on that day.

The Afghanistan national football team occasionally played in Asian Cup qualifiers and in early 2003 celebrated its first victory, a 2-1 win against Nepal. The team made it to the runners-up position in the 2011 SAFF Championship but failed to win the trophy. However, in the 2013 SAFF Championship, the Afghan team won its first international football trophy after playing against India.[4]

History of football in Afghanistan[edit]

A football match between members of ISAF and Afghan National Army in 2009.
Local football players at a public park in Kandahar.

The first football games to be played in Afghanistan were played between 4 school teams back in 1923, these four teams were Maktab Habibiyeh, Maktab Esteghlal, Tafrih Team and Mohajer Team.

The first Afghan football club was Mahmoudiyeh F.C., which was founded in 1934. The team traveled to India three years later and took part in 18 games of which 8 were won, 9 lost and 1 tied. Ariana Kabul F.C. was established in 1941 and became the second Afghan football club. This team traveled to Tehran upon invitation from Iran, played 3 games in which 1 was won and 2 were lost. In the same year the Afghanistan national football team (Ariana Kabul F.C.) was formed when it played the national football team of Iran in a 0-0 draw for first international game.

Afghanistan did not play a competitive international match from 1984 until 2002, when it competed at the Asian Games in Busan, South Korea. The results were 10-0 to Iran, 11-0 against Qatar and 11-0 to Lebanon. The nation recorded its first victory in almost 20 years in March 2003 when they beat Kyrgyzstan 2-1 in an Asian Cup qualifying match. Sayeed Tahir Shah and Farid Azami were the scorers on that day. Their results in the 8-nation South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup were also respectable – losing to Sri Lanka and Pakistan 1-0 and India 4-0.

Although it did not play in any international games from 1984 to 2003 due to internal conflicts, it is striving and hoping to make it to FIFA one day. In 2007, the Afghanistan women's national football team was created. It is directed by the Afghan Sports Federation or the Afghanistan Olympic Committee. During the 2011 SAFF Championship, the Afghan team marked its first win over Nepal and made it to the runners-up position but failed to win the trophy from five-times-champion India.

On 20 August 2013, Afghanistan defeated Pakistan in a friendly football match that was held at the Afghan Football Federation (AFF) stadium in Kabul.[5] The following month, during the 2013 SAFF Championship, Afghanistan beat six-times-champion India and received its first international football trophy. Afghans celebrated their victory all across the country.[4][6][7][8]

Football structure[edit]

There are currently two leagues for Men: Kabul Premier League, which is the country's major league, comprising twelve teams from Kabul.[9][10][11]

Then there is an Afghan Premier League to promote football in the 34 Provinces of Afghanistan.[12]

There is also a league for women: Women Kabul League, consist of 17 teams from Kabul.[13]

League system[edit]

Level League(s)/Division(s)
1 Afghan Premier League
8 clubs

Stadiums[edit]

Teens playing football inside the Ghazi Stadium, built during the 1920s under King Amanullah Khan.

There following is an incomplete list of football stadiums in different cities of Afghanistan:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304520704579129462234307776
  2. ^ http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/on-the-road/2012/11/football-fever-hindu-kush-freston
  3. ^ Qadiry, Tahir (September 22, 2012). "Roshan Afghan Premier League a hit with fans". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  4. ^ a b Lyse, Doucet (September 12, 2013). "Precious moments of unity touch Afghans after football triumph". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-09-13. 
  5. ^ Afghanistan Defeats Pakistan in Historic Football Match. NATO channel (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System). 20 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  6. ^ http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/12/rare-moment-of-nationalunityasafghannationalsoccerteamprevails.html
  7. ^ http://world.time.com/2013/09/18/afghanistans-soccer-captain-meet-the-humble-hero-of-a-war-torn-nation/
  8. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/world/asia/a-raucous-welcome-for-winning-afghan-soccer-team.html?_r=0
  9. ^ Sayed, Mir (2012-09-10). "Afghanistan's First Football League to Release Draw Tomorrow". Tolonews.com. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  10. ^ "Afghanistan to launch football league - Football". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  11. ^ David Ignatius (August 4, 2012). "David Ignatius: In Afghanistan, soccer or civil war". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  12. ^ From wire reports (2012-07-31). "Soccer report: Afghans placing hope for unifying country on new pro league | FC Dallas Soccer News - Sports News for Dallas, Texas - SportsDayDFW". Dallasnews.com. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  13. ^ "Bringing Soccer to Afghanistan's Girls - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. 2006-07-14. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  14. ^ Ahmad, Iqbal (2005-02-13). "Football Ground | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 

External links[edit]