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Pakistan football team to face Afghanistan in Kabul again after 37 years

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Pakistan football team to face Afghanistan in Kabul again after 37 years

paki teamPakistan’s national football team arrived in Kabul on Monday – it’s first time doing so in 37 years – as it gets set to play a friendly match against the Afghan national team on Tuesday at the Football Federation Stadium in the capital.

Upon arrival, the Pakistani players spoke to the media and expressed their hopes of winning the match as well as their excitement to play against Afghanistan in Kabul once again.

“Our coach has prepared us well. This match will be a good warm-up practice for the South Asian Football Championship. Afghanistan is a good team and our players are confident of winning the match,” Samar Ashaq, captain of the Pakistani football team told TOLOnews.

The last time the Pakistani national football team played in Kabul was in 1976 at the Ghazi stadium, where Afghanistan defeated Pakistan 1-0. The national teams from the two south Asian neighbors have met twice since then, although not in Afghanistan. In 2005, the men’s national teams squared off at the South Asian Football Championship in Karachi and Pakistan was able to avenge the 1976 match with a 1-0 victory. Then the women’s teams met in 2012 at the South Asian Girls Football Championship in Sri Lanka, where Afghanistan trounced Pakistan 4-0.

In addition to assuring that the Afghan players are well prepared for Tuesday’s match, AFF officials expressed their hope that the competition will lead to a closer relationship between Afghan and Pakistani football organizations. “The Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), by organizing the friendship match, intends to forge better ties with the Pakistani Football Federation (PFF),” said Yousaf Kargar, deputy technical head of the AFF, at a press conference in Kabul on Monday.

Tensions between the governments in Kabul and Islamabad are at an all time high, with allegations of Pakistani officials supporting terrorism and perpetuating insurgency being tossed around by their Afghan counterparts on a seemingly every day basis. With this backdrop in mind, the match on Tuesday could be seen as either an opportunity for the two nations to diffuse some of the strife between them, or simply a chance for their increasingly adversarial political dynamic to come to life on the pitch.

“This game is very useful in establishing friendly relations and we want to strengthen ties with our neighbors,” one member of the national team told TOLOnews.

The confidence of the Afghan side extends beyond the rapport-building potential of the friendly match, however. For his part, Yousef Kargar, the coach of the Afghan national team, was optimistic about the potential outcomes of the match, both large and small. “The upcoming match will strengthen our relations with Pakistan. And we are sure that we will win the match,” said Mr. Kargar.

We are prepared and tomorrow we will defeat Pakistan,” Mustafa Adib, a member of the national team told TOLOnews.

The match will be televised live on TOLO TV and Lemar from the Football Federation Stadium in the capital. The pre-match show will begin at 3:15pm, with kick-off at 4:00pm.

The return match between the two sides is planned for December, 2013 in Islamabad. However, the success of this event and the uncertain future of diplomatic relations between the two south Asian neighbors is sure to have a hand in determining when, or if, such a match will be held. (Source: Tolo News)

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