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Afghanistan stuns India to win SAFF title

Published Sep 11, 2013 08:23pm


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The Afghan squad led by coach Yousef Kargar danced on the field with their nation's flag held aloft, before doing a lap of honour in front of an appreciative crowd. -Photo by AFP
The Afghan squad led by coach Yousef Kargar danced on the field with their nation's flag held aloft, before doing a lap of honour in front of an appreciative crowd. -Photo by AFP

KATHMANDU: Revenge-seeking Afghanistan broke India's stranglehold on the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) title with an impressive 2-0 win over the two-time defending champions in Kathmandu on Wednesday.

The sturdy Afghans never looked back after Mustafa Azadzoy put them ahead in the ninth minute of the fast-paced final, with Sandjar Ahmadi extending the lead in the 62nd minute.

An estimated 5,000 fans at the Dasarath Rangashala stadium in the Nepalese capital were treated to attacking football in a repeat of the previous final in 2011 in New Delhi between the same teams.

The Afghans had publicly spoken about their intention to seek revenge for the humiliating 4-0 loss to India in that final, which they blamed on poor supervision by the referee.

Mission accomplished, the Afghan squad led by coach Yousef Kargar danced on the field with their nation's flag held aloft, before doing a lap of honour in front of an appreciative crowd.

Afghanistan, ranked 139th in the world as compared to India's 145th, were rewarded for an early assault on the Indian goal when Azadzoy scored following a swift move from the right flank.

India responded with quick strikes of their own through Robin Singh and the Japanese-born Arata Izumi, both of which were thwarted by Afghan goalkeeper Mansur Faqiryar.

A surprise move by India's Dutch coach Wim Koevermans to bench star striker Sunil Chettri till the 60th minute cost the defending champions dearly as several chances went begging.

Afghanistan took advantage of their fumbling rivals as Ahmadi made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute, chipping the ball out of the reach of the outstretched Indian goalkeeper Subrata Paul.

It was Afghanistan's maiden victory in the SAFF tournament, while India had won the event six times, including the last two in 2009 and 2011.

Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives and hosts Nepal were the other teams in the tournament, regarded as the symbol of football supremacy in South Asia.

Comments (26) Closed

Sayyar Khan Sep 11, 2013 08:38pm

Nice job Afghan Team. They were robbed last time by Poor/Biased referee.

Tamilselvan Sep 11, 2013 09:01pm

Congratulations to the young Afghan team on their victory. In a country where one hears about terrorists and mullahs killing innocent women and children more than anything constructive this is good news

IMM Sep 11, 2013 09:31pm

Happy 9/11 to all afghans for being the champion of South Asia in Football. Hope to maintain it for several decades.

assad Sep 11, 2013 10:54pm

Well done Afghanistan!

redrock Sep 11, 2013 11:32pm

Congrats to our afghan brothers!

Malik Sep 12, 2013 12:04am

This is great news, not just India lost but also because Afghanistan won it. I am sure this will matter alot to afghans and will go long way for the development of the game and society of the country. Wish congratulations to whole Afghan nation inside and outside country specially in Pakistan....

RAJA Sep 12, 2013 12:52am

Hearty Congratulations to team Afghanistan.

Surinder Jeet Sep 12, 2013 03:49am

Bravo Afghanistan! Keep it up and build on it. Beating India is easy, considering their deplorable standard in almost every game. You will learn to beat bigger teams. Congratulations.

Syed K Hasan Sep 12, 2013 04:28am

Congratulations to AFGHANISTAN football team for a job well done!

Syed K Hasan Sep 12, 2013 04:29am

Congratulations to Afghanistan football team for a job well done!

Pakistani Sep 12, 2013 06:24am

Congratulations to Afghanistan on a well deserved victory...enjoy this moment, you deserve it. A Pakistani.

Sid Sep 12, 2013 06:31am

Congratulations my Afghan brothers & sisters. Its very pleasure to see u people happy after this winning. Wish U all the best.

Anees Sep 12, 2013 07:36am

Well done ! Well done again for beating the defending champions !

Majid Sep 12, 2013 07:58am

Go Afghanistan !!

Rashed Chughtai Sep 12, 2013 08:46am

Well Done Afghanistan !!!

mehboob malik Sep 12, 2013 10:28am

Well done Afghanistan team.

Ahsin Hafeez Sep 12, 2013 12:11pm

Congrats Afghanistan :) They deserved it

Shua e ilm Sep 12, 2013 12:46pm

some moments of joy for Afghans!!

Akram Sep 12, 2013 01:42pm

Afghanistan mubarak ho.

shakt Sep 12, 2013 02:41pm

Congratulations !!!!! Happy to see some positive new among neighbour s

Sachin Kale Sep 12, 2013 02:45pm

I love this!!! Even though I am Indian, I am glad that Afghans won and perhaps found something unifying and encouraging in form of sport.

S. A. M. Sep 12, 2013 03:35pm

congrats team afghanistan

keep it up

Ali Sep 12, 2013 04:13pm

Afghanistan a country in different wars internal/external from last few decades still if a nation has a will can do whatever they want. Shame on India and Pakistan this shows if you are incompetent then a billion of population can't do anything.

ahmedj Sep 12, 2013 04:20pm

Most of the teams had foreign coaches. Afghanistan was on its own with their very own Afghani coach. The best coached team won. Moral of the story, Have confidence in oneself.

Prakash Sep 13, 2013 02:00am

Heartiest Congratulation to Sports Lover of Afghanistan, it will unite the war weary country in happy time and show the path to unite in bad times.

Rakesh Sep 13, 2013 03:50am

@Ali: Football isn't popular in cricket-obsessed India & I think same is the case with Pakistan. Whereas football is very popular in Afghanistan. So, it's unfair to call all the Indians and Pakistanis as "incompetent" just because you won a tournament for the first time, which has been won by India for the six times. Anyways, congratulations to the Afghanistan!