Afghan footballers return home to rousing welcome
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Afghanistan football squad on Monday returned home to a warm welcome from New Delhi after losing to India the hotly-contested final of the South Asia Football Federation (SAFF) Cup.
Hundreds of soccer fans, including women and children, accorded a rousing welcome to the national team that lost 2-1 to the hosts at the Trivandrum International Stadium on Sunday.
Zubair Amiri put Afghanistan in front in the 70th minute before Jeje Lalpekhlua (72nd minute) put India back in the game.The finalists were locked 1-1 after the regulation 90 minutes.
India’s Sunil Chhetri scored the decisive goal in the 11th minute of extra-time when he capitalised on a defensive lapse by the visitors.Afghanistan, the defending champions, had defeated India 2-0 in the final of the last edition in Kathmandu in 2013.
Afghanistan, which defeated Sri Lanka 5-0 to advance to the final, were expected to outplay India. The championship is held every two years. India had beaten Afghanistan in 2011.
Earlier in the championship, the Afghan defeated Bangladesh 4-0, Bhutan 3-0 and the Maldives 4-1.The Afghans scored 16 goals and conceded only one in their pool matches and topped the table in its group.
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