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Afghanistan stuns India 2-0 to lift SAFF Cup

Kathmandu, Sep 12 (): Afghanistan stunned India with an impressive 2-0 win to register its first international trophy in football in the South Asian Football Federation Championship at Dashrath Stadium here on Wednesday.

Mustafa Azadzoy scored the first goal of the match in the ninth minute to take Afghanistan the lead 1-0 in the first half of the match. After conceding the goal, India played better to equalise with a fiery attack from Mehtab Hossain in the central midfield and Farncisco Fernandes down right. However, the efforts through Robin Singh and Arata Izumi were well saved by the Afgan goal-keeper Mansur Faqiryar.

Sanjar Ahmadi doubled the lead for Afghanistan in the 63rd minute. Afghanistan goalkeeper Mansur Faqiryar said, “I’m proud of my whole country. I congratulate my dear countrymen.”

The Afghan squad led by coach Yousef Kargar danced on the field with their nation’s flag held aloft.

Afghan Parliamentarians arrived in the afternoon and cheered their men and announced an apartment and USD 25,000 each for the team members if they happen to win the match.

After the hardline Taliban regime was toppled in 2001, they recently re-emerged on the world scene of games.

Afghanistan are ranked 139th in the world and India ranked 145th and India had won the event six times, including the last two in 2009 and 2011. India beat the Afghans 4-0 in the 2011 championship match.

The other teams played in the tournament were Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives and hosts Nepal.

India entered the final of the tournament by tossing Maldives out in with a late goal courtesy of Arnab Modal. They beat Pakistan 1-0, drew with Bangladesh 1-1 and lost to Nepal 1-2 in the group matches.

Afghans in the group matches beat Bhutan 3-0 and Sri Lanka 3-1 and a goalless draw by Maldives and they defeated hosts Nepal 1-0 in Sunday`s semi-final.