By: Katayon Qahir
Afghanistan just won its first international trophy in football last Thursday. In Kabul, the capital city of the country, young and old cheered, clapped and laughed as their team seized the win in Kathmandu, Nepal. Cars horns blared, and some Afghans waved national flags on the streets. The Afghan team beat India 2-0 in the South Asian Football Federation Championship, a tough match the result of which brought a rare moment of unity to this ethnically fractious, war-weary nation and marked their victory in the South Asian Football Federation Championship.
The SAFF Championship, also called the South Asian Football Federation Cup (previously South Asian Football Federation Gold Cup), is the main association football competition of the men’s national football teams governed by the South Asian Football Federation. The tournaments are held every two year. The countries that compete in the tournaments are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Afghans, who were a founding member of the Asian Football Confederation in 1954, have a long football history but only recently re-emerged on the world scene after decades of war and insurgency. Afghans began playing football about 90 years ago, and the country’s national federation was founded in 1922. Afghanistan joined FIFA in 1948. Although Afghanistan has never played at the World Cup, the country has been getting better in recent years, rising up the FIFA rankings to No. 139 on the latest list.