[QODLink]
Football

Asian football chief hails Afghan win

Shaikh Salman tips Afghanistan for AFC Challenge Cup success as thousands welcome victorious SAFF winners home.

Last Modified: 13 Sep 2013 10:32
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Afghanistan clinched the SAFF title and their first international trophy on Wednesday with victory over India [AFP]

Asia's football chief Friday said Afghanistan had a strong chance of reaching the next Asian Cup after shocking India to lift their first international trophy.

Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said Afghanistan, who won the South Asian Football Federation title in Kathmandu on Wednesday, were now among the favourites for the AFC Challenge Cup.

Winners of the competition, to be held in the Maldives next year, will gain automatic entry to the continent's top tournament, the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.

Afghanistan's success in South Asia has... served a caution to 2014 AFC Challenge Cup title aspirants. They have showed their mettle at the regional level and I think they would be one of the favourites in Maldives

Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, AFC President,

"Afghanistan's success in South Asia has... served a caution to 2014 AFC Challenge Cup title aspirants," the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) boss said.

"They have showed their mettle at the regional level and I think they would be one of the favourites in Maldives."

"I feel this victory will prove to be an inspiration to millions of Afghans around the world," Shaikh Salman said in a statement.

Warm welcome

Wednesday's 2-0 win by Afghanistan, ranked 139th in the world, prompted heady scenes in Kabul where the team were welcomed home by the president and thousands of fans.

President Hamid Karzai greeted the team on Thursday at the Kabul airport, hugging the players and posing with them and their gleaming trophy for the cameras.

The athletes then headed to Ghazi Stadium, where they were met by thousands of rambunctious fans who screamed in happiness and jostled - at times dangerously - to get close to their heroes.

The win brought rare unity to this ethnically divided nation, where the former Taliban government once used sports stadiums to stage executions and where bombings are still part of daily life. The reaction indicated that Afghan society had healed in some ways since the US ousted the Islamist movement in 2001.

For hours after the win, Afghans danced in the streets, honked car horns and fired guns in celebration. Some painted their bodies the green, black and red colours of the national flag.

On Thursday morning, many greeted one another with "Congratulations!'' while shouts of "Long live Afghanistan!'' were still echoing across the capital by the evening.

Afghan television networks devoted heavy airtime to the players' return, interspersed with performances of patriotic songs.

454

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
An estimated 36 people die each day in embattled town where pro-Russia rebel separatists fight Ukrainian soldiers.
People are starving in southern Somalia while relief efforts are blocked by government and rebel fighting.
join our mailing list