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Afghanistan kicks off World Cup qualifiers amid political turmoil

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Afghanistan kicks off World Cup qualifiers amid political turmoil

Afghanistan on Thursday embarks on its inaugural World Cup qualifying marketing campaign following the Taliban’s resurgence to energy, led by head coach Abdullah al-Mutairi, who goals to set politics apart and steer his crew towards victory towards Mongolia.

Afghanistan, who’ve by no means gotten near securing a spot on the World Cup, is hoping to advance to the second spherical of Asia’s preliminaries for the 2026 finals, however al-Mutairi and his squad face a lot of challenges.

Unable to play in entrance of their very own followers as a result of safety scenario in Afghanistan, they’re taking part in the “home” leg in neighboring Tajikistan earlier than dealing with Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar within the return match on Tuesday.

“Everyone is thinking all of us are monsters, but this is not true,” the Kuwaiti coach informed Reuters how his crew has been perceived for the reason that Taliban returned to energy two years in the past.

“You can not decide the entire folks due to one or two or due to the political scenario.

“We are only a football team. It’s so difficult, but we try our best.”

The tie is one in every of 10 happening throughout the continent that includes the confederation’s lowest-ranked nations, with the victors advancing to the second spherical group section, which options seeded nations akin to Japan and Australia.

The winner of Afghanistan’s playoff will tackle the 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar in addition to India and al-Mutairi’s native Kuwait, with the highest two finishers advancing to the subsequent section of qualifying.

The third and fourth-placed finishers within the group transfer right into a qualifying event for the 2027 version of the continental championship, which will likely be performed in Saudi Arabia.

“Our target is to qualify for the Asian Cup in 2027,” mentioned al-Mutairi. “We will try our best now.”

Despite the numerous challenges al-Mutairi has confronted since taking up as coach in April, he mentioned he has succeeded in mixing a cohesive and unified squad comprised of gamers from each inside and outdoors Afghanistan.

“We try to show everyone in the team that we have the same pain,” he mentioned. “We are people.

“It’s not necessary about background, your tradition, the place you sleep, the place you’re resident, the place you play. It will not be necessary.

“The most necessary is we now have the identical blood, Afghanistan blood. This you can’t change, even in case you have one other passport, even if you happen to had been born outdoors and have by no means been to Afghanistan earlier than. None of that is necessary.

“What is important is the team plays for the country. Before, it was a big problem, but now we’ve solved it.”

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