Afghanistan's history in the SAFF Suzuki Cup

02-Sep-2015


The reigning champions have done well in the last couple of editions of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Suzuki Cup. Despite the tournament's inception in 1993, the Afghans have only counted themselves among the participants since the 2005 competition.

Here's a brief look back at their performances in the prestigious regional tournament:

2005 - Pakistan

Making their bow in the tournament, Afghanistan were placed in Group A with Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They suffered a humiliating 9-1 defeat at the hands of Maldives on their debut as Ibrahim Fazeel and Ahmed Thariq both bagged hat-tricks.

They gathered themselves and recovered with a narrow 1-0 defeat against the tournament hosts before earning their very first win in a 2-1 victory over Sri Lanka which saw them finish third in the group albeit failing to progress to the next round.

2008 - Maldives, Sri Lanka

Afghanistan were drawn in Group B along with Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh. They showed promise in their opening two fixtures which both ended in draws.

They held co-hosts Sri Lanka 2-2 in their debut match before managing an identical score-line against Bangladesh, surrendering leads on both occasions. A disappointing 3-1 defeat to Bhutan however, sealed their fate as they finished bottom of the group and were eliminated.

2009 - Bangladesh

Afghanistan came into their third SAFF Suzuki Cup appearance with renewed hope but were made to take on the might of Maldives, India and Nepal in a strong looking Group A.

After a late strike saw them defeated by Indians in their first fixture, they were convincingly beaten 3-1 and 3-0 when they faced Maldives and Nepal respectively. They were dumped out of the tournament without registering a point.

2011 - India

The Lions of Khorasan finally began to show some teeth in this edition of the tournament having gotten some experience under their belt. They were drawn in Group A alongside India, Sri Lanka and Bhutan and went on to top it on goal difference with 7 points to their name, the same as the host nation.

Following a closely contested opening 1-1 draw with India, Afghanistan convincingly dispatched Sri Lanka before stamping their authority on the tournament with an 8-1 thumping of Bhutan as Balal Arezou scored four times.

Afghanistan edged past Nepal after extra-time in the semi-finals but when they squared off with India again in the final, they were ruthlessly dispatched 4-0 by Savio Madeira's men and had to settle for a runners-up spot.

2013 - Nepal

The team were drawn in Group B with Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan this time around and were determined not to relive the heartbreak of their previous campaign.

They began with comfortable 3-0 and 3-1 wins over Bhutan and Sri Lanka respectively before holding a dangerous looking Maldives side to a 0-0 draw thereby joining them in the next round. A 1-0 win over Nepal saw them progress to the final where they met India yet again.

This time around however, Afghanistan matched Indian on the pitch and earned a historical 2-0 victory with goals from Mustafa Azadzoy and Sandjar Ahmadi which meant that they had won their first ever international tournament.



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