The majority of the Afghanistan national team play their club football outside the country…
India are all set to lock horns against Afghanistan in their final match of the second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers on Tuesday at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Igor Stimac’s side will hope to end their campaign with a win in the final match and also finish the group stage with a positive goal difference, something which India have only achieved twice in the history of the World Cup qualifiers.
India are high on confidence after their convincing 2-0 win over Bangladesh in the last match, but they have a difficult test in front of them as Afghanistan are no easy opposition for the Blue Tigers.
The last time these two sides met was back in November 2019 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan were India somehow managed to pick a point, courtesy of a last-minute strike by Seiminlen Doungel.
The biggest asset of this Afghan team is that 22 players out of the current 26-man Afghanistan squad ply their trade outside the country. The majority of those players play in the lower divisions in countries like Germany, Netherlands and Sweden. And some even play in the USA and Australia.
Even India Igor Stimac is wary of Afghanistan’s strength and remained cautious ahead of the facing Anoush Dastgir’s side as he said before the match – “Afghanistan are full of players with international experience, and most of the players are playing in foreign leagues. You can recognise it when you gauge their confidence on the ball. But at the same time, we see our chance and need to go out on the pitch and play good football and to make sure we finish this tournament on a winning note.”
There are three familiar faces for the Indian fans in their squad as well. Haroon Amiri, Sharif Mukhammad and Masih Saighani have an Indian connection. While Amiri and Mukhammad played for the I-League clubs Real Kashmir and Gokulam Kerala respectively last season, Masih Saighani has previously played for Aizawl FC in the I-League and Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL). Saighani currently plays for Bangladeshi top tier side Abahani Dhaka.
How many Afghan players play club football outside the country?
|Ovays Azizi||Ariana FC||Sweden||Fourth division|
|Faisal Hamidi||Toofan Harirod FC||Afghanistan||Top division|
|Hamidullah Wakili||De Maiwand Atalan FC||Afghanistan||Top division|
|Milad Intezar||VV SteDoCo||Netherlands||Fourth division|
|David Najem||New Mexico United||USA||Second division|
|Haroon Amiri||Real Kashmir||India||Top division|
|Masih Saighani||Dhaka Abahani||Bangladesh||Top division|
|Najim Haidary||FC Den Bosch||Netherlands||Second division|
|Hussain Alizada||Shaheen Asmayee||Afghanistan||Top division|
|Zelfagar Nazary||Dandenong Thunder||Australia||Semi-professional league|
|Sharif Mukhammad||Gokulam Kerala||India||Top division|
|Abassin Alikhil||SC Hessen Dreieich||Germany||Fifth division|
|Omid Popalzay||Olimpia Grudziądz||Poland||Third Division|
|Samir Samandari||De Spin Ghar Bazan||Afghanistan||Top division|
|Amiruddin Sharifi||Neftchi Kochkor-Ata||Kyrgyz Republic||Top division|
|Fardin Hakimi||Arambagh KS||Bangladesh||Top division|
|Fareed Sadat||AC Oulu||Finland||Top division|
|Ahmad Omran Haydary||Lechia Gdańsk||Poland||Top division|
|Noor Husin||Dartford FC||England||Sixth division|
|Maziyar Kouhyar||Hereford FC||England||Sixth division|
|Farshad Noor||Persib Bandung||Indonesia||Top division|
|Faysal Shayesteh||VV Duno||Netherlands||Second division|
|Adam Najem||Tampa Bay Rowdies||USA||Second division|
|Noraollah Amiri||Ariana FC||Sweden||Fourth division|
|Hossein Zamani||SC Telstar||Netherlands||Second division|
|Zubayr Amiri||SC Hessen Dreieich||Germany||Fifth division|
|Jabar Sharza||HIFK Fotboll||Finland||Top division|
How have Afghanistan performed in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers?
In the World Cup qualifiers, they started their campaign with a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Qatar in Doha but they came back strong by registering a slender 1-0 win over Bangladesh. They lost 3-0 to Oman in their third match. Then they drew 1-1 with India before losing 1-0 to Qatar.
Afghanistan prepared for the June qualifiers with a short camp in UAE where they played against Indonesia (3-2 win) and Singapore (1-1 draw).
After the qualifiers resumed in June 2021, they were held to a 1-1 draw by Bangladesh and then lost to Oman 1-2 in their last match.