Quantcast
Latest Stories

War-weary Afghans revel in football victory



An Afghan man runs with the national flag as he celebrates the national soccer team’s homecoming in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Sept, 12, 2013. Afghans have welcomed home their national soccer team with exuberance and joy, a day after the squad won the war-weary country its first international trophy in the sport. AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghans on Thursday welcomed home their national football team with exuberance and joy, a day after the squad won the war-weary country its first international championship in the sport.

President Hamid Karzai greeted the team at the airport, hugging each player 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.

Afghanistan beat India 2-0 in the South Asian Football Federation Championship on Wednesday. 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 part of daily life.

For hours after the win, Afghans danced in the streets, honked car horns and fired guns in celebration. On Thursday morning, many greeted one another with “Congratulations!” while shouts of “Long live Afghanistan!” were still echoing across the Afghan capital, Kabul, by the afternoon.

“I am proud of the Afghan team — they made the greatest victory in the Afghan history, and I am proud to be Afghan,” said Shukria Barakzai, an

Afghan parliamentarian and one of the relatively few women in this strict Muslim nation who went out in public to celebrate.

Even in Kandahar, a deeply conservative city in the Taliban-riddled south, Afghans hit the streets in pride, according to photos posted by the government there. The revelers piled into cars, waving national flags as they drove through the streets.

Javid Faisal, the spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, tweeted in what might have been only a half-jest: “I will not post any casualty reports for 24 hours as I am celebrating the Championship of Afghanistan.”

Afghans began playing football about 90 years ago, and the country’s national federation was founded in 1922. Afghanistan joined FIFA in 1948. The country also was a founding member of the Asian Football Confederation in 1954.

From the 1950s through the ’70s, football gained a strong following in Afghanistan, but it nearly disappeared during the 10-year Soviet occupation from 1979-89 and the civil war that followed from 1992-96.

When the Taliban ruled from 1996-2001, they severely restricted sports, and public outpourings of joy like this week’s would have been unimaginable. But after the American-led invasion ousted the Islamist movement from power, football and other sports here were reborn.

Still, Afghans have struggled on many levels as the Taliban have pursued a bloody insurgency. Moments of national unity are especially welcome amid growing uncertainty over what will happen to the country after U.S.-led troops finish their withdrawal next year.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.


Tags: Afghanistan , Football , India , Soccer , Sout Asia , War torn



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement

News

  • 43 out of 414 Etihad passengers yet to be found, tested for MERS-CoV – Palace
  • Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  • N. Korea finally offers condolences over ferry tragedy
  • 16 CADPI sugar refinery workers now out of danger after toxic shower in Batangas
  • PNP denies Purisima’s involvement in questionable deal with courier firm
  • Sports

  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ GM F word
  • Albert Pujols hits 500th HR of major league career
  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • China won’t budge, wants PH gov’t to apologize to HK
  • Marketplace