Scouting the Opponent: Afghanistan

When: May 27th, 2014
Kickoff: 1130 GMT 
Where: Galolhu National Stadium, Malé, Maldives
TV: BeIn Sports 4 // Follow the action Live on YouTube. (You can use Hola to unlock the channel if you are in the MENA region)

FIFA Rank: 128th (18th in AFC)

Previous Encounters:
29/06/2011 // Tursunzoda, Tajikistan // 2014 World Cup Qualifying 2-0
03/07/2011 // Al-Ram, Palestine // 2014 World Cup Qualifying D 1-1

Recent Results: 
24/05/2014 v. Laos D 0-0
22/05/2014 v. Turkmenistan W 3-1
20/05/2014 v. Philippines D 0-0
14/05/2014 @ Kuwait L 2-3
12/05/2014 v. Kyrgyzstan W 1-0
04/05/2014 @ Tajikistan L 0-1

More after the jump…

Background: Afghanistan come into this match lacking the confidence they exhibited after their 3-1 victory over Turkmenistan. Laos- long shots to get any sort of result during the tournament left an indelible mark on the final Challenge Cup tournament. A much hyped Afghanistan-Palestine final is no longer a possibility but the 0-0 draw does mean the two nations will meet for only the third time in their respective histories.

Afghanistan have been put through the ringer this tournament- in their first game they were forced to navigate choppy waters by speed boat in order to make it to the Addu City ground- a journey that left many of their players seasick. They played in a deluge and absolute dogfight against Turkmenistan-  a game that must have taken a lot out of them as they struggled to break down Laos two days later. To add insult to injury (no pun intended) the team was involved in a bus accident that casted doubt on the availability of some of their players. If that wasn’t bad enough they’ll be traveling yet again to get to the national stadium in Malé.

Challenge Cup Squad: Unlike the other squads Palestine has faced the Lions of Khorasan are a far more cosmopolitan bunch. Only five players on the 23 man roster actually play in the Afghan Premier League, most of the side are expatriates who live in Germany and ply their trade in the Regionaliga with another large contingent also playing in India.

 Star Player/Injuries: Zohib Islam Amiri is the captain and heartbeat of this side he will be healthy enough to play against Palestine and presents a constant threat on set-pieces. Defender Hassan Amin, Ahmad Hafiti and midfield maestro Azadoy are definitely out while Belal Arzeou (who scored the last time these two teams met) and Faisal Shakizada face late fitness tests.

Style of Play: Afghanistan defend resolutely and attack on set pieces. They do not score a lot of goals but they don’t concede many either. The loss of many key players will test their mental strength but Afghanistan are one of the strongest sides in that aspect. 

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