Platini To Help Boost Football In Afghanistan
The national men’s team beat neighbours India 2-0 to win the South Asian Football Federation championship in Kathmandu earlier this month, Afghanistan’s first international football title, sparking wild celebrations back home.
On a day trip to Kabul former France skipper Platini visited the national sports stadium, meeting young players of both sexes.
Speaking at a news conference Platini said UEFA would lend support to the Afghanistan football team and joked that they may even qualify for a World Cup.
“On behalf of the UEFA executive committee and the national association of UEFA, we are ready to help the national association of Afghanistan but not with finance, money, because we are not allowed to give money, but we are allowed to help on the knowledge, on the coaches and passports and there are many other programs we can do and I will be very proud to help Afghanistan in this matter,” he told reporters.
“When I see that ability after what happened in Afghanistan, to see some people playing football, to have so good result. I think it is beautiful and I want to pay respect to the national association. I never see a football game of Afghanistan I will wait to the next World Cup to see Afghanistan, perhaps.
Afghans have struggled under the weight of three decades of conflict, stretching back through the occupation by former Soviet forces, a civil war, austere rule under the Taliban and then another 12 years of war since the Taliban were toppled.
But their sporting success is growing, with a domestic soccer league now established, and the cricket team close to qualifying for the 2015 World Cup.
“I was surprised when I heard Michel Platini is coming to Afghanistan, his visit encourages the Afghanistan football team and his visit will pave the ground for more investment of football knowledge in Afghanistan and more success,” said national team manager Rafi Barekzai. “However in the region there are countries like Iran with good players but Platini hasn’t visited them so far, so we are happy.”