***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***
The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about 5 moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.
But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at Afghanistan, which is yet to qualify for a World Cup.
Rambo was wrong
Nickname: The Lions of Khorasan
FIFA Ranking: 154 (June 2022)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Failed to advance from second round (AFC) group stage, finishing below Qatar (qualified as hosts), Oman and India.
When Rambo crossed the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan in Rambo III, after listening to his companion recount an ancient prayer that Rambo wish to hear, he was convinced that ‘Afghans don’t take any shit’ (or something like this). But Rambo was wrong. Dead wrong. Well, not dead wrong, but pretty much. Though Afghanistan fought hard against attempted conquests by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and the Russians, on the field it’s been a different story, and from day dot, they’ve taken a lot of shit from basically everyone. Contrary to what the ancient poem says, before taking the field against the Lions of Khorasan, opposition teams do pray for God to deliver them from the teeth of the tiger, the venom of the cobra, but when it comes to the vengeance of the Afghan, they either don’t bother with that bit or just totally forget to say it.
Joining FIFA in 1948, it didn’t take long for basically everyone to start lining up to give Afghanistan shit. It lost its only ever FIFA Finals match at the 1948 Olympics 6-0 to Luxembourg and the beatings have pretty much continued unabated ever since. They’ve been bounced from every World Cup campaign usually at the first or second stage, and most recently took a ton of shit from Qatar and Oman in the second round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. But actually, Rambo wasn’t totally wrong.
In 2013, during a renaissance for the game in Afghanistan, the side went all the way to the final of the 2013 SAFF Cup in Nepal, taking the crown with a landmark victory over India in the final. The Lions of Khorasan also claimed the FIFA Fair Play Award in the same year, suggesting that Rambo’s assertion that Afghans don’t take any shit wasn’t entirely true, but was more ‘Something like this.’
One to watch: Airport health and safety
Next time you’re in the area being evacuated out of Afghanistan via military aircraft due to a departing foreign military occupation, amid suicide bombers and a crumbling government about to revert back to a barbaric, oppressive regime, you’re gonna wanna keep a watchful eye on yours and your family’s health and just steer clear of anyone clinging to the wheels or hold of an Air Force C-17 who simply refuses to wear a face mask (below).
The threat of contracting COVID-19 still looms large in our world, but not everyone feels the same way, so stay alert and keep your family at a safe distance from those who stubbornly shirk COVID-19 protocols while hanging on for their lives to the outer shell of a large military transport aircraft (or tragically falling from it) while it travels at 950 km/h. And don’t be afraid to politely ask them if they could put on a mask either. After all, whether desperately and perilously grasping a screaming aircraft at 28,000 feet or simply plummeting to your death from it, we’re all in this together!
The Highpoint: 10 years ago (Feels like: 1010 years)
Few other forces have the power to unite the people of a war-torn country like football. And that’s exactly what happened in Afghanistan in 2012-2013. First, the country’s first ever professional league was formed, then the national team played their first home international in 10 years, and in 2013, most notably, the Afghans then went to the South Asian Football Federation Championship in Nepal and ended up bringing home the trophy, defeating India 2-0 in the final. All these achievements lead to the nation being awarded the 2013 FIFA Fair Play Award at the world governing body’s annual Ballon d’Or ceremony. Things seemed to be trending north for the Afghans, and for the first time in their history, the Lions of Khorasan were purring.
Yeah but nah. That feels about a thousand years ago now though and things are back to how they were around the time of the T-Rex et al. The Taliban have regained control of the country, meaning that the country’s focus, resources and efforts have shifted away from investment and participation in any sports to just making sure the national women’s cricket and football teams enjoy their open-ended stays in Australia.
Learn the lingo & speak like a local!