By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - Celebrations were all over Afghanistan on Sunday as the country’s Under-15 Football team overpowered a much superior opponent Uzbekistan to lift the title of 2017 Central Asian Football Association championship.
Besides cricket, football remains one of the favorite sports among the Afghan youth. In the CAFA final match last night, the Afghans managed to pull a 3-2 victory.
Hosted by Tajikistan, teams from FIFA’s Central Asian zone including Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan took part in this championship. Iran decided not to take part.
The final match between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan was an eventful affair with both sides playing positive and aggressive football. The Afghans secured an early lead thanks to Samir Samandari’s goal only 7 minutes into the game. Uzbekistan tried hard to level the score before the halftime, and ultimately succeeded in the 38th minute.
In the second half, Afghanistan pulled another goal to consolidate the lead with goal by Tamim Mirzada in the 63rd minute of the game. Coached by veteran footballer Syed Hadi Kazimi, Afghanistan remained dominant in the second half with the third goal by Syed Asghar Hussaini in the 80th minute of the game that put Uzbekistan under pressure.
As the Afghans relaxed a bit with a clear margin, Uzbekistan sneaked through to score their second goal in the 82nd minute, but failed to go beyond that.
After the final whistle in Dushanbe Tajikistan, celebrations commenced in the Afghan capital Kabul and other major cities with radio and television channels airing patriotic songs, and young boys and men pouring to the streets in various localities.
Social media was flooded with messages of congratulations, as well as a red-carpet welcome for the champion team at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday has already been organized.
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Afghanistan celebrates U15 title in football
By Shadi Khan Saif