Kabul hosted Sunday’s friendly between the Afghanistan national football team and Palestine’s national team at the Afghanistan Football Federation’s stadium.
Both teams had a number of opportunities at goal – but neither team scored. When the final whistle was blown, the score stood at 0-0.
The match – which marked Afghanistan’s 99th anniversary of independence – was played under floodlights to a packed stadium.
Hundreds of fans, and dozens of families, women included, attended the much anticipated match.
One football official said earlier in the week that this match was a good chance for Afghanistan to prove it can host football events – which in turn would encourage FIFA to remove Afghanistan from the list of countries banned from hosting matches.
“By hosting the Palestinian team, we will show to FIFA that we can be a good host and we can convince them to take us out of the list of the five countries which are banned to host football matches,” said Ali Kazimi, an official of Afghanistan Football Federation.
“The event is important for Afghanistan from a technical point of view, because Palestine is ahead of Afghanistan in the FIFA list,” Kazimi added.
On Saturday, the Afghan national football team coach, along with his Palestinian counterpart addressed a press conference and both coaches said their teams were well prepared for the friendly.
This was not the first time the teams faced each other – they played against each other twice in the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers and once in the Asia Challenge Cup in 2014. Palestine beat Afghanistan in all three matches.
Afghan coach Anosh Dastgir said on Saturday his team had faced rigorous training sessions in the run up to the match.
“Palestine has lost five of its last 20 matches and has won the rest. But our team is prepared in terms of quality,” he said.
The Palestinian coach, Noureddine Ould Ali, said his players were ready for the match and that the event would further strengthen ties between the two countries.
“The coach of Afghanistan football team is young. For sure, he is looking for a good result and our players are ready,” Ali said.