Good info for Afghan football fans. 🙂
AFC Challenger Cup ’08 – Team Profile: Afghanistan
Afghanistan is in Group A with hosts India and Champions Tajikistan and have to play out of their skins to qualify for the knockout stages. Goal.com profiles the war-torn nation for you….
The whole country has been plagued by political turmoil for a very long time. As a result, football in the country has been hampered like all other aspects of public life. Afghanistan formed their national team as early as 1933 but never really became a force in football. Their best performance at the international stage came at the inaugural Asian Games in 1951 when they came 4th. But the country would never again reach those heights in football and after their participation in the qualifying campaign for the 1984 Asian Cup; they did not play a single match till 2002.
This was largely due to the Russian invasion and later the Taliban regime didn’t allow them to play football both at domestic and international level. Afghanistan returned to the international stage at the 2002 Busan Asian Games and since then they have been the whopping boys of Asian Football. But the national team has made improvements since becoming one of the beneficiaries of the GOAL Project.
The country has qualified for the AFC Challenge Cup by beating Kyrgyzstan and holding Bangladesh to a draw in the qualifiers. They also did well at 2008 SAFF Cup Championships drawing with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan will enter the AFC Challenge Cup as minnows and the fact that they have nothing to lose might work in their favor.
Goalkeepers: Shamsuddin Amiri (1), Emal Gariwal (18).
Defenders: Bashir Ahmad Saadat(2), Zohib Islam(3), Qudratullah Hussaini(4), Ali Ahmad Yarzada(5), Yusuf Barak(19), Jalaluddin Shariatyar(16), Faizal Sakhi Zada(13), Maqadar Qazizadah(11).
Midfielders: Sayed Masood Hashemi (14), Israfeel Kohistani (7), Salem Nahemi (12), Harez Arian Habib (17), Ata M.Yamrali (21), Mohd Ibrahim Jebran (6), Sayed Bashir Azimi (8).
Forwards: Hafizullah Qadami (10), Obaidullah Karimi (20), Abdul Saboor Aser (22), Hadid Mustafa (15), Hamidullah Rastagar (9).
Shamsuddin Amiri: The 22 year old is Afghanistan’s first choice goalkeeper, who has made 20 appearances for his country at the international stage with over 200 appearances for his club Maiwand Kabul FC. Amiri, who was Afghanistan’s Player of the Year in 2007 will surely be their busiest player and would have to be at his very best to keep out the opposition.
Harez Arian Habib: Habib is a goal scoring midfielder with three international goals to his name, all of which came at the 2008 SAFF Cup. He plays for German Landesliga Hessen-Nord 1st Division Club FSC Lohfelden and his experience of playing in Europe will be very important for his team.
Hafizullah Qadami: Qadami is Afghanistan’s Number 10 and one of their most reliable players. He plays as a striker and with four international goals he is their top scorer. His team will rely heavily on him for goals.
Coach – Klaus Stark: The 54 year old German was sent by the German Football Association to develop football in Afghanistan in 2004. He took over as national team coach in 2005 and under him Afghanistan has improved their FIFA ranking.
Their qualification to the AFC Challenge Cup 2008 has been his best achievement so far and he would look to guide his team for a good performance at the tournament. Stark is also the coach of the woman’s football team and he is hoping to bring in more players of Afghan origin who play in Europe. Much can’t be expected from Stark but results similar to the 2008 SAFF Cup where they managed two draws will be well accepted by both the AFF and the fans.
FIFA Ranking: 181
Form (Last 5 matches)
Afghanistan 1-3 Bhutan SAFF Cup, 8th June 2008, Venue: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Afghanistan 2-2 Bangladesh SAFF Cup, 6th June 2008, Venue: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka 2-2 Afghanistan SAFF Cup, 4th June 2008, Venue: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Kyrygyzstan 0-1 Afghanistan Challenge Cup 2008 Qualifiers, 7th May 2008, Venue: Bishkek, Kyrygyzstan
Bangladesh 0-0 Afghanistan Challenge Cup 2008 Qualifiers, 5th May 2008, Venue: Bishkek, Kyrygyzstan