Football: Afghan ecstasy after beating Pakistan

By AFP
Published: August 20, 2013

Afghan fans celebrate following their team's second goal against Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

Afghanistan national footballers (in red) compete with Pakistan players (in green) during a football match in Kabul stadium on August 20, 2013. PHOTO: AFP Afghan fans celebrate following their team's second goal against Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

KABUL: Afghanistan’s football team sparked rowdy celebrations across the war-battered nation Tuesday after securing a convincing 3-0 win over arch-rivals Pakistan in the first international match in Kabul for a decade.

A delirious 6,000 capacity crowd packed the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) stadium for a game that unleashed a wave of patriotic pride in a country beset for decades by war, poverty and militancy.

Afghanistan, ranked at 139th in the world just above Pakistan, gave home fans little to worry about, dominating the game from the kick-off and going three goals ahead mid-way through the second half.

The match was promoted as a symbol of football’s ability to foster peace and unite countries in a shared love of sport, but the result was celebrated by many Afghans as a sweet victory over an old and bitter adversity.

“I am a huge football fan, and this match was so important for us,” said Shabir Ahmad, 27, a government employee at the match.

“There are a lot of rivalries between Afghanistan and Pakistan, even if this match was meant to boost friendship.”

Political ties are badly strained between Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan, which blame each other for bloody violence plaguing both countries.

Just a small number of women were in the stands, and there was no sign of Pakistani support despite thousands of Pakistanis living and working in the Afghan capital.

Security was intense with several rings of armed riot police and soldiers beating back frustrated ticketless crowds locked outside of the stadium.

One spectator, Ahmadzai Fazeli, 25, said that insurgents at a Taliban roadblock in volatile Wardak province had wished the team well.

“On the way here the Taliban stopped me. I told them I was going to the football match, and they happily let me pass,” he said. “Now I am here feeling very patriotic and happy.”

Ahead of kick-off, tempers frayed as police struggled to control unruly crowds pushing to get access to the game, which was attended by some senior Afghan officials and foreign diplomats, including the British ambassador.

But the final whistle triggered delirium as players paraded the national flag in front of dancing spectators and crowds celebrated on the city streets.

The game, which was played on an artificial pitch funded by the FIFA world body, was the first home international since Afghanistan played Turkmenistan in 2003.

Football was not banned under the Taliban’s 1996-2001 regime but the old Ghazi stadium in Kabul was a notorious venue for executions, stonings and mutilations.

Tuesday’s game, at the separate AFF stadium in the city, will be followed on Thursday by the start of the second season of the eight-team Afghan Premier League.

A return match is scheduled in the Pakistani city of Lahore in December.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Raj Kafir
    Aug 20, 2013 - 8:29PM

    Now Pakistan should accept the defeat and vacate Afghani lands illegally occupied by Pakistan.

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  • truth
    Aug 20, 2013 - 8:40PM

    Thanks pakistan for coming to kabul and see you in lahore…and good luck for next time.

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  • Isaak
    Aug 20, 2013 - 9:09PM

    Try to beat Pakistan in cricket match and then celebrate, which is deserved. Football is not popular in Pakistan. Pakistanies won’t even read this news.

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  • RAW is WAR
    Aug 20, 2013 - 9:27PM

    viva Afghanistan.

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  • Someone
    Aug 20, 2013 - 9:28PM

    @Raj Kafir: India can start by vacating all the non-Kafir lands it has illegally occupied.

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  • Aamir - Toronto
    Aug 20, 2013 - 9:34PM

    @Raj Kafir

    I guess you meant to say “India” not Pakistan !!!!!!!

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  • Zeff
    Aug 20, 2013 - 9:39PM

    @Raj: And our nutjob indian brothers should stop poking their nose in everyones business.

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  • ModiFied
    Aug 20, 2013 - 9:43PM

    Congratulations Afghans. New Afghanistan is certainly emerging. Even in cricket, Afghans will be a force in near future.

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  • Afghan
    Aug 20, 2013 - 9:46PM

    Appreciate the Pakistani players for coming to Afghanistan to play

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  • shahbaz ahmed
    Aug 20, 2013 - 10:11PM

    Hippocracy of afghanis is beyond my comprehension. we had given our hands to them in every of their trial and gave their displaced refugees a land to live, saved them from the insurgency of Russia in fact a long list of sacrifices that we and our armed forces had made to keep them a sovereign state and there is no end to these struggles as we are greatly enduring this agonizing journey of an independent Afghanistan. pakhtoons were never supposed to be like this, this time their loyalty is questionable. they are totally ungrateful to all the efforts we have made, in fact still continue. One must question them about their loyal friends. is this an insurgent america who does own them since 2001 or they believe in India which i consider the mother of Hippocrates. if not Pakistan then to whom do they believe in?? we let them use our land for business, education, health facilities, sports and still they do not greet us for all this. it was a painstaking journey that our army and intelligence agencies have endured just to keep them an independent state on this world map and still they take these matches like a war… This is all resulting due to the deep penetration of Indian intelligence agencies into Afghanistan but again the question arises who let them to open their offices in all along the border…Now they are playing the puppet show using these ungrateful afghanis, turning them against their Muslim neighbor. we are on a course of confrontation all due to the involvement of Indian spy agencies and america. this was the ultimate goal of american invasion. we must be careful of this international game plan and Afghanistan must stop playing part in this game plan provided by these countries. this would be in the favor of the region and muslims.Recommend

  • shahbaz ahmed
    Aug 20, 2013 - 10:13PM

    Hippocracy of afghanis is beyond my comprehension. we had given our hands to them in every of their trial and gave their displaced refugees a land to live, saved them from the insurgency of Russia in fact a long list of sacrifices that we and our armed forces had made to keep them a sovereign state and there is no end to these struggles as we are greatly enduring this agonizing journey of an independent Afghanistan. pakhtoons were never supposed to be like this, this time their loyalty is questionable. they are totally ungrateful to all the efforts we have made, in fact still continue. One must question them about their loyal friends. is this an insurgent america who does own them since 2001 or they believe in India which i consider the mother of Hippocrates. if not Pakistan then to whom do they believe in?? we let them use our land for business, education, health facilities, sports and still they do not greet us for all this. it was a painstaking journey that our army and intelligence agencies have endured just to keep them an independent state on this world map and still they take these matches like a war… This is all resulting due to the deep penetration of Indian intelligence agencies into Afghanistan but again the question arises who let them to open their offices in all along the border…Now they are playing the puppet show using these ungrateful afghanis, turning them against their Muslim neighbor. we are on a course of confrontation all due to the involvement of Indian spy agencies and america. this was the ultimate goal of american invasion. we must be careful of this international game plan and Afghanistan must stop playing part in this game plan provided by these countries. this would be in the favor of the region and muslims.

    Recommend

  • expaki
    Aug 20, 2013 - 10:23PM

    @Isaak: Isaak, In games, BEST WINS. Do not forget, that we have BEST PROMISING PLAYERS in Karachi, especially boys of Layari area, they are born with foot ball in their blood. All they need, little encouragement. See them when they play, they dance with foot ball under their feet. Bless those boys.

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  • Babloo
    Aug 20, 2013 - 10:27PM

    Is Lahore safe enough for Afghan soccer team ? Has a clearance certificate being obtained from Punjab Taliban ?

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  • expaki
    Aug 20, 2013 - 10:29PM

    @shahbaz ahmed: “we had given our hands to them in every of their trial and gave their displaced refugees a land to live” Shahbaz, its game, do not mix it with politics. Beside if “WE” gave them bread, then you do not brag in public. You are DUTY BOUND to provide protection to a human, ANY HUMAN, even to KAFFIR LIKE, if someone ASKS you. Learn to respect and love others, and learn to FIGHT in a playing ground, remember BEST WINS :-)

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  • Bilal
    Aug 20, 2013 - 10:47PM

    @Raj Kafir:
    Atleast Pakistani team went to Afghanistan unlike Indian team and after all It was a friendly match.

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  • Bilal
    Aug 20, 2013 - 10:48PM

    I am from Rawalpindi and even I know that Lyari boys should have been in the team because the real football talent lies in Lyari and BaluchistanRecommend

  • Asif
    Aug 20, 2013 - 11:18PM

    Though I know a lot of my Pakistani brothers would disagree with me, but the fact remains that we Pakistanis are descendants of hindus defeated by Afghans. Hence however much we fight for Islam, we will always be considered as kafirs by Afghans and looked down upon by them. Similarly Afghans are always looked down upon by the Iranians for similar reasons.

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  • B
    Aug 20, 2013 - 11:45PM

    @Aamir – Toronto:
    No he meant Pakistan.

    Just because you have given them hand before you think that Afghanistan belongs to Pakistan. Try telling that to your Masters (China) to expel all Indians from China. Reality will drown you with their answer.

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  • B
    Aug 21, 2013 - 12:06AM

    @shahbaz ahmed:
    “saved them from the insurgency of Russia”.

    Sorry to bust your dreams but USA saved you from Russians getting Gwardar Port.

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  • rohullah kakar
    Aug 22, 2013 - 11:57AM

    it is not far to beat pakistan cricket in pakistan

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