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Pakistan, Afghanistan to Play Friendly Football Match

by AFP
Manjunath Kiran—AFP

Manjunath Kiran—AFP

The match marks the first time Afghanistan has played in Pakistan since 2005.

Pakistan and Afghanistan will play a friendly football match in Lahore on Friday, which team officials describe as part of a “football friendship between the two nations.”

The two teams last met for a friendly in Kabul in 2013—won by the host 3-0—which marked the first international football match between the two countries in 30 years. Afghanistan has not played in Pakistan since they featured in the 2005 South Asian Football Federation Cup in Karachi.

Afghanistan team captain Jalal Uddin said Friday’s match will further the relationship between the two countries. “We are here to give a message of friendship and I am sure with friendlies like this, the sport will flourish in the region,” Jalal said.

Afghanistan start as favorites as they rank 142 in world, higher than Pakistan at 188. Despite the ranking difference, Pakistan captain Hasan Basheer said his team would play with passion.

“This is a fact that Afghanistan are above us in rankings but that will not deter us in the match,” said Basheer.

Pakistan will be without their star players Mohammad Adil and Kaleemullah who are playing club football for FC Dordoi in Kyrgyztan.

Basheer said the friendly against Afghanistan would help his team in the build-up to the qualifying rounds of the 2016 Olympics and World Cup in 2018. The World Cup qualifiers will be played from March 12-17, while Olympic qualifiers will be held from March 23-31.

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