Afghanistan gets hero’s welcome after qualifying for Cricket World Cup

Afghanistan's cricket captain Asghar Stanikzai (C) holds the trophy they won after defeating West Indies in the 2019 World Cup qualification tournament on Sunday, as they celebrate, in Kabul. (AP)
Updated 27 March 2018

Afghanistan gets hero’s welcome after qualifying for Cricket World Cup

KABUL: Afghanistan’s cricket team received a hero’s welcome when they returned to Kabul on Tuesday, fresh from winning the World Cup qualifying final and securing a spot in the 2019 tournament.
After touching down in the Afghan capital, the team was whisked away to a special ceremony where they were met with standing ovations from an invitation-only crowd.
Afghanistan had looked set to miss out on a second straight World Cup appearance after suffering a series of defeats in the group stage.
But they turned their performance around and Sunday’s final win over the West Indies in Zimbabwe gave them their fifth victory in a row as they qualified with help from results elsewhere.
Captain Asghar Stanikzai, holding the winner’s trophy, led his teammates up a red carpet through an honor guard of Afghan children in traditional dress, who threw red rose petals over the smiling players.
The team’s remarkable recovery showed “we are able to fight hard,” Stanikzai told AFP. His team will play their maiden Test match against India in Bangalore in June.
“Afghanistan has changed quite a lot compared to what it was in previous years. The other teams should understand that we are a strong and rising team and we will try our best to put on a good show (in 2019),” he added.
For security reasons ordinary Afghan cricket fans were not allowed to welcome the players on their return to Kabul, but supporters have flooded social media in recent days to pay tribute to the team.
Their victory was also met with celebratory gunfire, fireworks and honking of horns throughout the Afghan capital.
“Congratulations team Afghanistan for this remarkable victory,” Motiullah Mutmaen wrote on Twitter.
“You have a fighting spirit which makes you a dangerous team who can beat any team on any given day.”
Aymal Khan Jalal posted on Facebook: “You have finally managed to put a smile on our faces!“
Leg-spin sensation Rashid Khan, who became the fastest bowler ever to reach 100 one-day international wickets in the West Indies match, said making the World Cup was a “dream” come true.
“The team we have right now and the talent we have, it’s a world class team. We just need to believe in ourselves,” Khan told AFP.


Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal says 10 players infected with COVID-19, requests match postponement

Updated 20 September 2020

Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal says 10 players infected with COVID-19, requests match postponement

  • Al-Hilal contacted AFC to request postponing Sunday's match against Shahr Khodro

RIYADH: The Saudi Al-Hilal team has officially requested to postpone its scheduled match on Sunday against its Iranian counterpart Shahr Khodro at Al-Janoub Stadium in the Qatari capital, Doha, in the fifth round of group stage of the AFC Champions League football competition.
The club published a statement on its official Twitter account saying it had contacted the AFC to request to postpone its match against the Iranian team after 10 players contracted COVID-19.
The club said it had “caused a major crisis in the team, after the number of players infected with the virus has now reached 15,” according to the statement.
Al-Hilal was looking to qualify for the next round, as they lead the group with 10 points from four matches, compared to seven points for Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor Tashkent and six for the UAE’s Shabab Al-Ahli Club club. Shahr Khodro are still without points.
Al-Hilal, who has suffered absences from many players due to coronavirus, needs to obtain only one point in order to qualify for the Round 16, pending the AFC’s response to the Saudi team’s request.