Afghanistan national football team

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This article is about Afghanistan's national football team. For the women team, see Afghanistan women's national football team.
Afghanistan
افغانستان
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Lions of Khurasan
(شیران خراسان)
other nicknames
Association Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF)
Confederation AFC (Asia)
Sub-confederation CAFA (Central-Asia)
Head coach vacant
Captain Faysal Shayesteh
Most caps Zohib Islam Amiri (55)
Top scorer Balal Arezou (9)
Home stadium Ghazi Stadium (25,000)
FIFA code AFG
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 151 Decrease 5 (12 January 2017)
Highest 122 (April 2014)
Lowest 204 (January 2003)
Elo ranking
Current 170 (October 2016)
Highest 167 (May 2014)
Lowest 207 (17 November 2010)
First international
Afghanistan Afghanistan 0–0 Iran Iran
(Kabul, Afghanistan; 25 August 1941)
Biggest win
 Bhutan 1–8 Afghanistan Afghanistan
(New Delhi, India; 7 December 2011)
Biggest defeat
 Turkmenistan 11–0 Afghanistan Afghanistan
(Ashgabat, Turkmenistan; 19 November 2003)

The Afghanistan National Football Team (Dari:تیم ملی فوتبال افغانستان), also known as the Lions of Khurasan, [1][2][3] is the national football team of Afghanistan and is controlled by the Afghanistan Football Federation. Founded in 1933, and played their first international game against India 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.

History[edit]

Early History[edit]

Afghanistan national football team in 1920s.

Formed in 1933 and affiliated to FIFA since 1948, the Afghanistan Football Federation was one of the founding members of Asian Football Confederation in 1954.[4] 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 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 Soviet war in Afghanistan, Civil war in Afghanistan (1992–1996), and the Taliban regime.

2001–2010[edit]

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.[5] 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 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.

A football match being played in the Ghazi Stadium.

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 campaign of world cup 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,[6] 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 only goal of Afghanistan against Maldives which they lost.

2011–2013[edit]

Players are celebrating after winning their 2011 SAFF Championship Semi Final against Nepal.

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.

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.

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. 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.[7][8]

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 Years 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.[9] 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, by his outstanding goal keeping skills throughout the tournament.

2014–present[edit]

Afghan national team before 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Japan, Azadi Stadium

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 countries 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."

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.[10] 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 3th 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.

This was the last edition of the SAFF Championship where the national team of Afghanistan would play in. After the team was announced Afghanistan began with the preparation of the tournament. They were in a group of 4 country's which was: Maldives, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Afghanistan won the first match with 4-0 against Bangladesh. After they won the second match against Bhutan with 3-0 they qualified for the semi-finals. They won their last match against Maldives with 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 quite easy the final, 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 matched 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.

When the tournament ended Afghanistan still had a chance to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. After their second lose against Japan with a 5-0 defeat, Afghanistan had to win against Singapore to qualify as 4th best in their poule. And so they did with a 2-1 win against Singapore and a qualification spot for the 3th round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

After some problems and disagreements with the AFF Segrt made the decision to quit as the headcoach of the national team. This was just after his 1-year anniversary with the national team.

Nicknames[edit]

The Afghanistan national team has received several nicknames by 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.

Kit[edit]

In 2002, the Japanese sports brand Asics was the sponsor for the Afghan Football Team till 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.[11] 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 for 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. 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.[12]

Period Kit provider
2002–2004 Japan Asics[13]
2005–2008 Germany Adidas[14]
2009–2019 DenmarkHummel

Home Stadium[edit]

The Ghazi Stadium in Kabul, which is now referred to as the Afghan Football Federation Stadium.

Major football matches in Afghanistan are held at the Afghan Football Federation Stadium (popularly known as the Ghazi Stadium) in Kabul. Built during the reign of King Amanullah Khan in 1923, 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.[15] 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 Afghanistan Football Federation. The Afghan Premier League and other local football tournaments take place in the stadium.[16] 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 to be completed for the 2013/2014 season will cost 25 million euros.[17]

Results and fixtures[edit]

  Win   Draw   Loss

2017[edit]

2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification – Third Round

2018[edit]

2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification – Third Round

Personnel[edit]

Current Technical Staff[edit]

Position Name
Head coach Vacant
Assistant coach Afghanistan Ali Askar Lali

Current Squad[edit]

The following players were called up for a friendly match against Tajikistan.

Caps and goals as of 13 November 2016 after the match against Tajikistan.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Ovays Azizi (1992-01-29) 29 January 1992 (age 25) 14 0 Denmark BK Avarta
1GK Hamidullah Wakily (1990-02-02) 2 February 1990 (age 27) 4 0 Afghanistan Toofaan Harirod F.C.
1GK Emal Gariwal (1984-09-28) 28 September 1984 (age 32) 3 0 Afghanistan Oqaban Hindukush F.C.
1GK Abdul Manan Azimi (1993-10-19) 19 October 1993 (age 23) 0 0 Afghanistan De Maiwand Atalan F.C.
2DF Zohib Islam Amiri (1987-05-02) 2 May 1987 (age 29) 55 5 India Chennai City F.C.
2DF Hassan Amin (1991-10-12) 12 October 1991 (age 25) 17 0 Germany SV Waldhof Mannheim
2DF Sayed Mohammad Hashemi (1994-03-02) 2 March 1994 (age 22) 8 1 Afghanistan Shaheen Asmayee F.C.
2DF Masih Saighani (1986-09-22) 22 September 1986 (age 30) 10 2 unattached
2DF Anoush Dastgir (1989-11-27) 27 November 1989 (age 27) 4 0 Netherlands NEC Amateurs
2DF Modjieb Jamali (1991-04-30) 30 April 1991 (age 25) 5 0 Montenegro FK Dečić
2DF Roholla Iqbalzadeh (1994-11-02) 2 November 1994 (age 22) 3 0 Norway Byåsen Toppfotball
2DF Qesmat Ahmadi (1996-08-13) 13 August 1996 (age 20) 1 0 Afghanistan Mawjhai Amu F.C.
2DF Selaab Ghafouri 0 0 United States CD Aguiluchos USA
3MF Ahmad Hatifi (1986-03-13) 13 March 1986 (age 30) 34 4 United States CD Aguiluchos USA
3MF Abassin Alikhil (1991-04-19) 19 April 1991 (age 25) 25 0 Germany SC Hessen Dreieich
3MF Mustafa Azadzoy (1992-07-24) 24 July 1992 (age 24) 23 2 Thailand Chainat Hornbill
3MF Faysal Shayesteh (Captain) (1991-06-21) 21 June 1991 (age 25) 25 7 Iran Paykan F.C.
3MF Norlla Amiri (1991-08-23) 23 August 1991 (age 25) 13 3 Sweden Trelleborgs FF
3MF Kanischka Taher (1991-04-04) 4 April 1991 (age 25) 11 1 Germany SC Kapellen-Erft
3MF Milad Salem (1988-03-03) 3 March 1988 (age 28) 4 0 Germany FSV Frankfurt
3MF Saber Azizi (1996-01-13) 13 January 1996 (age 21) 1 0 Sweden Landskrona BoIS
3MF Edriss Hushmand (1999-05-02) 2 May 1999 (age 17) 1 0 Sweden BK Olympic
4FW Zubayr Amiri (1990-05-02) 2 May 1990 (age 26) 15 2 Germany SC Hessen Dreieich
4FW Fardin Hakimi (1994-11-16) 16 November 1994 (age 22) 4 0 Afghanistan Toofaan Harirod F.C.
4FW Amredin Sharifi (1992-03-23) 23 March 1992 (age 24) 4 1 Afghanistan Shaheen Asmayee F.C.
4FW Noor Zadran (1994-08-23) 23 August 1994 (age 22) 2 0 Sweden FC Rosengård 1917
4FW Faiz Mohammad Faizi (1992-10-22) 22 October 1992 (age 24) 0 0 Afghanistan De Maiwand Atalan F.C.

Recent Call Ups[edit]

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 Ahmad Zohaib Aseel (1991-12-26) 26 December 1991 (age 25) 0 0 Afghanistan De Spin Ghar Bazan F.C. v.  Lebanon, 5 September 2016

DF Milad Intezar (1992-11-04) 4 November 1992 (age 24) 1 0 Netherlands FC Lienden v.  Malaysia, 11 October 2016
DF Haseeb Rahim 0 0 unattached v.  Malaysia, 11 October 2016
DF Omid Homauoni (1994-01-01) 1 January 1994 (age 23) 2 0 Afghanistan Shaheen Asmayee F.C. v.  Lebanon, 5 September 2016
DF Hassan Rahmani (1996-03-15) 15 March 1996 (age 20) 0 0 Norway Follo FK v.  Lebanon, 5 September 2016
DF Mustafa HadidINJ (1988-08-25) 25 August 1988 (age 28) 26 2 Germany Altona 93 v.  Singapore, 29 March 2016
DF Abdullah Abdalli (1995-06-06) 6 June 1995 (age 21) 1 0 Afghanistan Shaheen Asmayee F.C. v.  Singapore, 29 March 2016

MF Omid Popalzay (1996-01-25) 25 January 1996 (age 21) 10 2 Netherlands Achilles '29 v.  Malaysia, 11 October 2016
MF Mohammad Mashriqi (1987-07-07) 7 July 1987 (age 29) 26 1 unattached v.  Malaysia, 11 October 2016
MF Maziar KouhyarINJ (1997-09-30) 30 September 1997 (age 19) 0 0 England Walsall F.C. v.  Malaysia, 11 October 2016
MF Rohid Samandary (1995-07-12) 12 July 1995 (age 21) 0 0 Afghanistan Shaheen Asmayee F.C. v.  Lebanon, 5 September 2016
MF Mustafa ZazaiINJ (1993-05-09) 9 May 1993 (age 23) 19 2 Germany TSG Neustrelitz v.  Lebanon, 5 September 2016
MF Sharif Mukhammad (1990-03-21) 21 March 1990 (age 26) 2 0 Russia PFC Spartak Nalchik v.  Singapore, 29 March 2016

FW Josef Shirdel (1993-04-03) 3 April 1993 (age 23) 3 1 unattached v.  Malaysia, 11 October 2016
FW Khaibar AmaniINJ (1987-02-06) 6 February 1987 (age 30) 11 6 Germany SC Hessen Dreieich v.  Lebanon, 5 September 2016
FW Anwar Akbari (1993-08-02) 2 August 1993 (age 23) 4 0 Afghanistan Toofaan Harirod F.C. v.  Lebanon, 5 September 2016

Notes:

  • 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

Competition Records[edit]

FIFA World Cup Records[edit]

World Cup World Cup qualifications
Hosts/Year Result GP W D L GS GA Hosts/Year Round GP W D L GS GA
1930 to 2002 Did not enter 1930 to 2002 Did not enter
Germany 2006 Did not qualify - - - - - - Germany 2006 Round 1 2 0 0 2 0 13
South Africa 2010 Did not qualify - - - - - - South Africa 2010 Round 1 2 0 0 2 1 5
Brazil 2014 Did not qualify - - - - - - Brazil 2014 Round 1 2 0 0 2 1 3
Russia 2018 Did not qualify - - - - - - Russia 2018 Round 2 8 3 0 5 8 24
Qatar 2022 To be determined - - - - - - Qatar 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 Records[edit]