Posts tagged ‘Taliban’

Winning Needs Some Perspective

For the past fortnight in India every newspaper is full of speculation on the Cricket World Cup, and whether the current World Champions can retain their trophy. Turn on the television and there are replays of previous tournaments, interviews with former World Champions, it has been wall to wall cricket as the country works itself up into a frenzy.

There are however some who feel that Australia may well have exposed fans to simply too much cricket prior to the World Cup, with the Test Series with India, The Big Bash League and then the Tri-nation series. Some believe that despite losing to Australia, India should have taken a break from playing ‘down under,’ and the players should have returned home for a couple of weeks break with their families before looking to defend their title.

This brings into question what is the perfect preparation for a tournament such as this. It has now become the norm that all the competing nations have warm up games against each other, games attended usually in the main by those unable to get tickets to the actual world cup games. Games in which neither side wants to reveal too much, saving their best for the tournament itself.

If India is under pressure how must South Africa feel having been warned by their Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula that they better not fail, and forbidding them to ‘become a bunch of losers.’ This comment was made during their official send off.

“we don’t want you in the World Cup to add numbers and just become a bunch of losers.” he was quoted as saying. He went on to say “You are not going to be playing with robots. You are playing with people. You are the special ones. You are the chosen ones. It does not mean you are irreplaceable but all of you are capable of doing the duty for us.”

Not happy with these inspiring words he continued by reminding the team of previous losses at previous World Cups. Proving that he is no Nelson Mandela when it comes to stirring inspirational oratory.

Having already labelled the national football team a bunch of losers a year ago, no doubt his words were water off a duck’s back to the players, but they can hardly have helped their preparation.

One team not expected to win a game is Afghanistan, competing in their first World Cup. Cricket has miraculously skyrocketed in popularity since the Taliban permitted the game to be played in 2000. A year later the ICC welcomed them to international cricket as an affiliate member.

Their preparation has faced a different set of problems as coach Andy Moles, who played for Warwickshire explained. ” I spoke to one of the players who was late to our late camp. I asked him the reason why he and he turned around and told me that he had to go to the funeral of his cousin who was shot dead by a drone.”

It would appear that many teams this time around are having their own set of problems when it comes to preparation for the World Cup, but for the sake of the players and everyone back in war-torn Afghanistan it would be great if sport can show just who wonderful it can be, and they could record a famous and unlikely victory to help the game grow and lift the spirits of the people back home. If they can that will be the equivalent of them winning the cup itself, and will hopefully give the tournament and certain politicians some perspective.


February 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

From Refugees to the MCG

Prior to his team’s back to back games against Kenya in Sharjah Afghanistan cricket coach Kabir Khan backed his team to seal direct qualification for the 2015 World cup. If Afghanistan lost either of these two matches the UAE would qualify in their place and they would have to head to New Zealand for a second round of qualifiers.

When Khan took over Afghanistan had won just two of their opening eight matches. They needed to win all of their remaining matches to qualify for the World Cup.

Last week they achieved that goal and it really is a rags to riches story.

It is believed that the first Afghans learned the game in Pakistani refugee camps, having fled the Soviet invasion in 1979. Sport was completely banned under the strict Islamic fundamentalist rule of the Taliban, between 1996 and 2001.  Pitches and arenas were more likely to host an execution than a training session or a match for any sporting team. However as the Taliban lost its grip, sporting teams and events began to grow

Twelve years ago, the Afghanistan cricket team didn’t officially exist. A few Afghan expats started a team in Pakistan and applied for accreditation to the ICC (International Cricket Council). Only in 2001 did Afghanistan became an ICC associate member; an associate membership meaning that it was recognized as an established sport in the country, nothing more. Seven years later in 2008, the team played its first matches in division five of the ICC’s global league. They played Japan.

They won the league and that gave them a chance of qualifying for the 2011 World Cup. Which they were unable to do. However the team did well enough in the qualifiers to be granted the status of an international one-day team.

They went on to qualify for the world Twenty20 tournament, in 2010 and again in 2012.

Now though, Afghanistan with its triumph over Kenya by seven wickets at the recent World Cricket League Championship in Sharjah, has to won the right to play at the 2015 World Cup. They will be part of a group that includes co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, as well as Bangladesh, England and Sri Lanka. It will not be easy but for a team that has come so far in so short a time, they have proved that they are up for any challenge.


October 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

Rivalry Builds Friendship

We have on the show, and on this site previously highlighted how sport has the ability to breakdown political boundaries and unite people from different cultures or religions, another such example occurred this week.

Political relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are to put it mildly, strained. Each nation blaming the other for the bloody violence that is plaguing both countries and resulting in pointless deaths.

Yet on tuesday the two national teams played an international game of football on a FIFA funded artificial pitch in Afghanistan. This was the first home international in Afghanistan since 2003 when they played Turkmenistan.

It was also the first time that these two neighbouring countries had played each other since 1977. This was prior to the old Soviet Union invading Afghanistan and Taliban rule. Football was not banned under the Taliban, but the Ghazi Stadium which was used for international games became notorious for executions, mutilations and stonings.

This game was played at the AFF Stadium and was witnessed by 6000 fans who left the stadium deliriously happy as Afghanistan, ranked one place above Pakistan in the FIFA World rankings at 139th, were the victors 3-0.

A re-match is scheduled for December in the Pakistani city of Kabul. Even thought this game was used to promote friendship victory over their arch rivals was sweet for the Afghanistan fans and proved the prefect way to launch the second season of the eight-team Afghan Premier League.

August 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm 1 comment

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