Afghanistan national football team
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|Nickname(s)||Lions of Khurasan
|Association||Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF)|
|Head coach||Otto Pfister|
|Most caps||Zohib Islam Amiri (42)|
|Top scorer||Balal Arezou (9)|
|Home stadium||Ghazi Stadium|
|Current||153 3 (6 April 2017)|
|Highest||122 (April 2014)|
|Lowest||204 (January 2003)|
|Current||168 1 (26 March 2017)|
|Highest||167 (May 2014)|
|Lowest||207 (17 November 2010)|
| Afghanistan 0–0 Iran
(Kabul, Afghanistan; 25 August 1941)
| Bhutan 1–8 Afghanistan
(New Delhi, India; 7 December 2011)
| Turkmenistan 11–0 Afghanistan
(Ashgabat, Turkmenistan; 19 November 2003)
|Best result||Qualifying – second round|
|AFC Asian Cup|
|Best result||Qualifying – third round|
|Appearances||7 (first in 2003)|
|Best result||Winners, 2013|
The Afghanistan National Football Team (Dari:تیم ملی فوتبال افغانستان), also known as the Lions of Khurasan, is the national football team of Afghanistan and is controlled by the Afghanistan Football Federation. Founded in 1922, they played their first international game against Iran in Kabul, 1941. Afghanistan then joined FIFA in 1948 and the AFC in 1954, as one of the founding members. They play their home games at the Ghazi National Olympic Stadium in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. In 2013, Afghanistan won the 2013 SAFF Championship. Afghanistan also earned the "FIFA Fair Play Award" in 2013.
- 1 History
- 2 2011–present
- 3 Nicknames
- 4 Kit
- 5 Home stadium
- 6 Results and fixtures
- 7 Coaching staff
- 8 Current squad
- 9 Competitive records
- 10 Honours
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
The first football club established in the country, Mahmoudiyeh F.C., was founded in 1934. Three years later the team traveled to India and took part in 18 games of which they won 8, lost 9 and drew 1. The second football club founded was Ariana Kabul F.C. which was established in 1941. This team traveled to Tehran, Iran upon invitation, played 3 games, winning one game and losing two.
Afghanistan's only appearance and first FIFA international match was at the Olympic Games football tournament in the 1948 Summer Olympic Games when they played Luxembourg on 26 July 1948 and lost 6–0. Prior to 2002, Afghanistan was last seen on the international stage during the 1984 AFC Asian Cup qualification, with its last match lost 6–1 against Jordan on 20 September 1984. Afghanistan played no international games from 1984 to 2002, due to the latter years of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, civil war in Afghanistan (1992–1996), and the Taliban regime.
Following the demise of the Taliban regime, the Afghan national team eventually returned to the international arena in 2002, when they played South Korea in the Asian Games, losing 2–0. Afghanistan participated in their first international tournament in the 2003 SAFF Gold Cup where they lost all three group stage matches to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Later in the same year, Afghanistan took part in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup qualification where they won against Kyrgyzstan but lost to Nepal and failed to make it to the next round. Afghanistan started its FIFA World Cup campaign for the first time in 2003 where they played Turkmenistan in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification. They lost both matches in aggregate of 13–0. This was the first time Afghanistan participated in FIFA World Cup qualification though they had been affiliated since 1948. The team went to Pakistan to take part in the 2005 South Asian Football Federation Gold Cup, which they lost to the Maldives.
They also participated in the first edition of the AFC Challenge Cup in 2006, for which they drew both matches with Chinese Taipei and the Philippines with Afghan footballers Hafizullah Qadami and Sayed Maqsood Hashemi both scoring to produce a drawn result, and on their second world cup campaign in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification were eliminated by Syria. In the SAFF Championship 2008 Afghanistan lost to Bhutan but drew with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Afghanistan entered the second round of the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008, by winning in group D of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualification, drawing with Bangladesh and winning against Kyrgyzstan. In the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, Afghanistan lost all group matches to India, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In 2009 SAFF Championship Afghanistan lost all its matches to Maldives, India and Nepal. Hashmatullah Barakzai scored Afghanistan's only goal against Maldives in that loss.
2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
Afghanistan competed in their third World Cup qualifying campaign playing the first leg of their first match against Palestine in Tajikistan due to security reasons, which they lost, and the second leg of the match in Palestine which they drew with Balal Arezou scoring, meaning they failed to advance to the second round and were eliminated.
2011 SAFF Championship
In 2011 SAFF Championship Afghanistan defeated Bhutan 8–1, the biggest victory in the history of the Afghanistan football team. In this match, Balal Arezou scored the only hat-trick of the competition with 4 goals and the team scored the quickest goal of the tournament through Ata Yamrali in the third minute. It was Afghanistan's first Semi Final. In the Semi-Final of the tournament, the Afghans faced Nepal whom they beat 1–0 in extra time with the only goal scored by Balal Arezou in the 101st minute. It was the first win of Afghanistan over Nepal. In the final, Afghanistan played India to whom they lost 4–0.
2012 AFC Challenge Cup
Afghanistan defeated Bhutan 5–0 in 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Qualification. In the first leg, they beat Bhutan 3–0 with Sidiq Walizada scoring all 3 goals, and 2–0 in the second leg. In the second qualification round, Afghanistan lost to Nepal and North Korea, whilst beating Sri Lanka but failed to qualify for the next stage.
Afghan Premier League
For the first time in the football history of Afghanistan the AFF announced a league where 8 teams will compete against each other. The league was established in 2012 with the first season running through September and October of that year. 8 teams were concurrently established in 2012 to become the inaugural competitors.
Players for the league were found through a reality television show called Maidan e Sabz ("Green Field"). The concept came from the Afghanistan Football Federation and the Afghanistan-based MOBY Group, which owns a number of TV channels and radio stations and is the largest media group in the country. MOBY Group channels will broadcast matches. Players were voted onto teams by a jury and by the television audience. Eight teams of 18 players, one from every region, were formed.
2013 SAFF Championship winners
On 20 August 2013 before the 2013 SAFF Championship Afghanistan played Pakistan in a FIFA approved friendly for the first time in 36 years. This was also the first time on home ground after a decade which ended with a 3–0 victory over Pakistan with goals from Sandjar Ahmadi, Ahmad Hatifi and Maruf Mohammadi.
Afghanistan entered the 2013 SAFF Championship as the highest ranked team by FIFA in the tournament placed at 139th. Afghanistan started the campaign with a 3-goal victory over Bhutan, with goals from Amiri, Azadzoy and Barakzai. The second match again ended with a 3–1 victory over Sri Lanka with goals from Rafi, Amiri and Barakzai. The Semi-Final of the tournament was the repeat of last year's edition with Afghanistan again defeating Nepal with a solitary goal of Sandjar Ahmadi, that took Afghanistan in to the final of the tournament against India once again. Mansur Faqiryar of Afghanistan showed an outstanding goalkeeping performance by saving two back to back penalty kicks from Nepal in the last minutes of the match. The Final match of the tournament saw the 2011 SAFF Championship finalists again at Dashrath Stadium Nepal, where Afghanistan outplayed the defending champions India by 2 goals.Afghanistan showed an outstanding performance. Goals from Azadzoy and Sandjar Ahmadi in each half of the game put the Afghan football team in front, to claim their first SAFF Championship title in their history.Mansur Faqiryar was named the best player of the tournament, for his outstanding goal keeping skills throughout the tournament.
AFC Challenge Cup 2014
In the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, Afghanistan did well to reach the Semi-final, losing to the eventual champions Palestine, 2–0. They finished their campaign in fourth spot, the country's highest finishing place in the short term the cup has existed, losing to Maldives on a penalty shoot out: (7–8) after a 1–1 draw for third spot of the competition. On 10 June 2014 Afghanistan Football Federation moved from South Asian Football Federation SAFF to the CAFF. At the 2014 Ballon D'or ceremony, the Afghanistan Football Federation won the FIFA Fair Play Award. Afghanistan was honored with the award for the outstanding performance of the Afghanistan football during the year, despite the chaos of war and difficult political situations the country is facing. FIFA made a statement and posted on its website that "Following a year of remarkable achievement in grassroots level football, building infrastructure to further develop football throughout the country and nurturing a professional league despite enduring over a decade of disorder stemming from war, Afghanistan has been presented the 2013 FIFA Fair Play Award."
2018 FIFA World Cup qualification
On 9 February 2015, it was confirmed that the AFF signed a new coach for the national team. German-Bosnian trainer Slaven Skeledzic, signed a 1-year contract with the AFF. The new trainer had earlier coached the under 17 and under 19 teams in Germany. Skeledzic played football in Germany and coached youth teams in the Bundesliga.On 27 April 2015 the AFF signed a contract with a new sponsor called Alokozay Group of Companies.
Afghanistan began the qualification with a 6–0 loss against Syria. After this match they had to play against lower ranked Cambodia. They won their first World Cup qualification match ever in the history of Afghanistan football. In their 3rd match against Japan, Afghanistan lost again 6–0. Against Singapore they lost 1–0 but deserved a win. With the position they were in they had to do something else. But unfortunately they lost against Syria with 5–2. In October 2015 the AFF forced Skeledzic to resign from his position, after the 5–2 defeat against Syria. In November 2015, the Afghan National Team announced that Petar Segrt was appointed as the new head coach. With a new coach and new players Afghanistan won their 2nd match against Cambodia with 3–0. After the qualifications the SAFF Championship started.
2015 SAFF Championship
This was the last edition of the SAFF Championship where the national team of Afghanistan would play. After the team was announced Afghanistan began preparing for the tournament. They were in a group of 4 countries which was: Maldives, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Afghanistan won the first match 4–0 against Bangladesh. After they won the second match against Bhutan 3–0 they qualified for the semi-finals. They won their last match against Maldives 4–1. In the semi-final Afghanistan had to play against Sri Lanka. The match ended in a 5–0 win for Afghanistan. Eventually after reaching the final quite easily, Afghanistan had to play against tournament favorite India. This was a replay of the finals in the 2011 and 2013 SAFF Championships. After 90 minutes the match ended in a 1–1 draw. In extra time Afghanistan deserved a penalty which they were declined. After this moment India scored the 2–1 and won the 2015 SAFF Championship for the 7th time. Khaibar Amani was given the topscorer of the tournament award with 4 goals.
2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification
When the tournament ended Afghanistan still had a chance to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. After their second loss against Japan with a 5–0 defeat, Afghanistan had to win against Singapore to qualify as 4th best in their group. And so they did with a 2–1 win against Singapore and a qualification spot for the 3rd round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
After the World Cup qualification ended Afghanistan played some friendly games. In September against Lebanon which the game ended in a 2-0 win for Lebanon. In October against Malaysia which ended in a 1-1 draw. Before the match against Tajikistan Segrt called up 24 players which did not include the player Zohib Islam Amiri because the player previously made the decision to not play anymore for Afghanistan. But without letting Segrt know the AFF did included Amiri in the squad. Segrt disagreed with the AFF and made the decision to quit as the headcoach of the national team. This was just after his 1-year anniversary with the national team. The match against Tajikistan ended in a 1-0 loss for Afghanistan. Anoush Dastgir led the team as interim coach for this match.
In February 2017 the AFF announced the signing of Otto Pfister as the new head coach of the national team. Afghanistan played a friendly game against Singapore before the Asian Cup qualification match against Vietnam. Afghanistan won the game with 2-1 with goals from Mukhammad and Azadzoy.  The important Asian Cup qualification match against Vietnam ended in a 1-1 draw with a goal from Hassan Amin. 
The Afghanistan national team has received several nicknames from supporters and media. The most common one used to refer the team is Khurasan Lions. Many Afghans also prefer the nickname the Lions of Khurasan. They are also called Melli Poshan or the Team Melli.
In 2002, the Japanese sports brand Asics was the sponsor for the national team until 2004. In the year 2005, the German sports brand Adidas was the sponsor of the national team till 2008. In 2009 the Danish sports brand Hummel equipped the national team. In 2011 the Afghanistan Football Federation had signed a 4-year contract with Hummel, to provide both the Men's and the Women's National Team with all of the sportswear from 2011 till 2015. On 6 March 2015, the Afghan Football Federation signed a new 4-year contract with Hummel till 2019. On 27 April 2015 the AFF signed a contract with a new sponsor called Alokozay Group of Companies. This sponsor will be on the shirts of the national team. Hummel released in 2016 the new kits for Afghanistan. It included an integrated hijab for the female Afghanistan footballers to play with while being covered from head to toe.
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor|
|2009–present||Hummel||Alokozay Group of Companies (AGC)|
Major football matches in Afghanistan are held at the Afghan Football Federation Stadium (popularly known as the Ghazi Stadium) in Kabul. It was built in 1923 during the reign of King Amanullah Khan, who is regarded as Ghazi (Hero) for the Afghan victory in the Third Anglo-Afghan War and gaining independence for his nation after the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919. The stadium has the capacity to house 25,000 people. The first international football match hosted there was played between Iran and Afghanistan in 1941 and ended as a draw, 0–0. Their 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification second leg match was played at the Ghazi Stadium against Turkmenistan which Afghanistan lost 2–0, having previously lost the first leg 11–0. The stadium is maintained and controlled by the Afghanistan Football Federation. The Afghan Premier League and other local football tournaments take place in the stadium. The Ghazi Stadium was renovated in 2011 after the entire ground was removed and replaced with new soil and artificial turf placed on top. The stadium now holds bigger sporting events. The proposed construction of a new national stadium was completed in the 2013/2014 season which cost 25 million euros.In 2015 FIFA helped the AFF with the reconstruction of new youth teams and develop also women's football for the national team.
Results and fixtures
Win Draw Loss
|23 March 2017||Afghanistan||2–1||Singapore||Doha, Qatar|
|Report||Shawal 47'||Stadium: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium
|6 June 2017||Afghanistan||v||Maldives||Dubai, United Arab Emirates|
|28 March 2017 Third round||Afghanistan||1–1||Vietnam||Dushanbe, Tajikistan|
|19:00 UTC+5||Amin 69'||Report||Nguyễn Văn Toàn 64'||Stadium: Central Republican Stadium [note 1]
Referee: Turki Alkhudayr (Saudi Arabia)
|13 June 2017 Third round||Cambodia||v||Afghanistan||Phnom Penh, Cambodia|
|TBD UTC+7||Report||Stadium: Olympic Stadium
|5 September 2017 Third round||Jordan||v||Afghanistan||Amman, Jordan|
|TBD UTC+2||Report||Stadium: Amman International Stadium
|10 October 2017 Third round||Afghanistan||v||Jordan||Dushanbe, Tajikistan|
|TBD UTC+5||Report||Stadium: Central Republican Stadium [note 1]
|14 November 2017 Third round||Vietnam||v||Afghanistan||Hanoi, Vietnam|
|TBD UTC+5||Report||Stadium: Mỹ Đình National Stadium
|27 March 2018 Third round||Afghanistan||v||Cambodia||Dushanbe, Tajikistan|
|TBD UTC+5||Report||Stadium: Central Republican Stadium [note 1]
|Head Coach||Otto Pfister|
|Assistant Coach||Anoush Dastgir|
|Coordinator||Ali Askar Lali|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Mansur Faqiryar|
|National Team Manager||Mustafa Mehrzad|
|Team Doctor||Shakib Safai|
|Equipment Manager||Mohammad Ali Mohammad|
|Program Director||Mike Pfister|
The following players have also been called up to the Afghanistan squad within the last 12 months.
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club||Latest call-up|
|GK||Emal Gariwal||28 September 1984||3||0||Oqaban Hindukush F.C.||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|GK||Ahmad Zohaib Aseel||26 December 1991||0||0||De Spin Ghar Bazan F.C.||v. Lebanon, 5 September 2016|
|DF||Masih Saighani||22 September 1986||11||2||Türk Gücü Friedberg||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|DF||Manan Farahi||19 October 1993||0||0||De Maiwand Atalan F.C.||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|DF||Qesmat Ahmadi||13 August 1996||1||0||Mawjhai Amu F.C.||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|DF||Mustafa Hadid INJ||25 August 1988||34||2||Altona 93||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|DF||Faisal Sakhizada||15 June 1990||17||0||Kingston City FC||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|DF||Zohib Islam Amiri||2 May 1987||42||6||unattached||v. Tajikistan, 13 November 2016|
|DF||Anoush Dastgir RET||27 November 1989||6||0||NEC Amateurs||v. Tajikistan, 13 November 2016|
|DF||Selaab Ghafouri||0||0||CD Aguiluchos USA||v. Tajikistan, 13 November 2016|
|DF||Haseeb Rahim||0||0||unattached||v. Malaysia, 11 October 2016|
|DF||Omid Homauoni||1 January 1994||2||0||Shaheen Asmayee F.C.||v. Lebanon, 5 September 2016|
|DF||Hassan Rahmani||15 March 1996||0||0||Follo FK||v. Lebanon, 5 September 2016|
|MF||Faysal Shayesteh INJ||21 June 1991||28||7||Paykan F.C.||v. Singapore, 23 March 2017|
|MF||Ahmad Hatifi WD||13 March 1986||34||4||CD Aguiluchos USA||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|MF||Noor Husin||3 March 1997||0||0||Accrington Stanley F.C.||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|MF||Maziar Kouhyar INJ||30 September 1997||0||0||Walsall F.C.||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|MF||Mustafa Zazai INJ||9 May 1993||20||2||TSG Neustrelitz||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|MF||Saber Azizi||13 January 1996||1||0||Landskrona BoIS||v. Tajikistan, 13 November 2016|
|MF||Edriss Hushmand||2 May 1999||1||0||BK Olympic||v. Tajikistan, 13 November 2016|
|MF||Mohammad Mashriqi||7 July 1987||17||1||unattached||v. Malaysia, 11 October 2016|
|MF||Rohid Samandary||12 July 1995||0||0||Shaheen Asmayee F.C.||v. Lebanon, 5 September 2016|
|FW||Reza Allahyari||0||0||Shaheen Asmayee F.C.||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|FW||Faiz Mohammad Faizi||22 October 1992||0||0||De Maiwand Atalan F.C.||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|FW||Josef Shirdel||3 April 1993||3||1||unattached||Training camp March 2017 provisional squad|
|FW||Noor Zadran||23 August 1994||3||0||FC Rosengård 1917||v. Tajikistan, 13 November 2016|
|FW||Anwar Akbari||2 August 1993||5||0||Toofaan Harirod F.C.||v. Lebanon, 5 September 2016|
- SUS Player suspended
- INJ Player withdrew from the squad due to an injury
- RET Retired from the national team
- WD Player withdrew from the squad for non-injury related reasons
Most capped players
Updated 28 March 2017.
Still active national team players are highlighted
|1||Zohib Islam Amiri||2005–2015||42||5|
Updated 28 March 2017.
Still active national team players are highlighted
|5||Zohib Islam Amiri||2005–2015||5||42|
Updated 28 March 2017.
|Manager||Career Start||Career End||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Goals For||Goals Against||Win %|
|Sayed Ahmad Zia Muzafari||1980||1981||Unknown|
|War in Afghanistan||1988||2003||Unknown|
|Mir Ali Asghar Akbarzada||10 Januari 2003||18 March 2003||5||1||0||4||2||11||20%|
|Mohammad Yousef Kargar||19 November 2003||23 November 2003||2||0||0||2||0||13||0%|
|Klaus Stärk||9 November 2005||8 June 2008||13||2||5||6||13||30||15%|
|Mohammad Yousef Kargar||30 July 2008||10 September 2013||30||13||5||12||40||43||43%|
|Erich Rutemöller (Interim)||13 April 2014||29 May 2014||9||2||4||3||7||8||22%|
|Hossein Saleh (Interim)||6 February 2015||7 February 2015||1||0||0||1||1||2||0%|
|Slaven Skeledzic||28 May 2015||13 October 2015||8||2||1||5||6||21||25%|
|Petar Segrt||12 November 2015||11 October 2016||10||6||1||3||23||12||60%|
|Anoush Dastgir (Interim)||13 November 2016||14 November 2016||1||0||0||1||0||1||0%|
|Otto Pfister||23 March 2017||Present||2||1||1||0||3||2||50%|
- As of 29 March 2017
FIFA World Cup
|World Cup||World Cup qualifications|
|1930 to 2002||Did not enter||1930 to 2002||Did not enter|
|2006||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||2006||Round 1||2||0||0||2||0||13|
|2010||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||2010||Round 1||2||0||0||2||1||5|
|2014||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||2014||Round 1||2||0||0||2||1||3|
|2018||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||2018||Round 2||8||3||0||5||8||24|
|2022||To be determined||-||-||-||-||-||-||2022||To be determined||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Total||Did not qualify||0||0||0||0||0||0||Total||Best: Round 2||14||3||0||11||10||45|
AFC Asian Cup
Summer Olympic Games