Doha, 11 November 2021 - Afghan and Qatari supporters cheered and whistled side by side from the sidelines of Khalifa International Stadium on Wednesday, as the recently-evacuated Afghan girls team played against Qatar in a friendly match.
The chilly World Cup stadium was filled with an air of respect as the two teams went head to head on the pitch, in the first match for the Afghans since leaving their home country last month.
Kickoff commenced at 3pm, and within 20 minutes, the maroons had managed to secure two goals, putting them in the lead early on.
The game came to a brief halt when an Afghan player sustained an injury.
Afghanistan’s coach passionately gave directions off pitch as the girls played their first game in Qatar.
24 minutes into the game, Qatar managed to scored its third goal before rushing in for a fourth at 30 minutes, but was blocked by a solid wall of defence from the Afghan team.
Just moments later, the maroons managed to find the back of the net.
Halftime ended with a 4-0 score in favour of the home team, but the Afghans were not ready to give up just yet.
Back onto the pitch, the two teams were as fierce as ever, bringing their all to the green grass of Khalifa stadium.
The Afghan goalie managed to block a corner kick from Qatar at the hour mark of the match. Soon after, Afghans formed a wall to block a free kick from Qatar. At 68 minutes, Qatar tried to score an impressive attempt, but was quickly blocked.
Qatar was granted another free kick that went high and missed the net. At minute 72, Afghanistan came very close to Qatar’s goalpost, but managed to land a free kick instead.
At the final whistle, Qatar scored a last minute goal that left them victorious with a 6-0 win.
While the scoreline clearly outlined the dominate team, at the heart of the event, wins and losses were not of importance.
To Generation Amazing, a project under the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy that organised the match, the event was designed show the importance of football for development, and not simply for sport.
“Although they’re here for a short time as they transit to other places, it is important for us to listen and pay attention to their interests. When we knew the Afghan women’s team was here, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for them to play a friendly match with the Qatar team in a 2022 World Cup stadium,” said Nasser Al Khori, Programmes Director for Generation Amazing.
Qatar was at the forefront of evacuation efforts following the Taliban takeover only months ago, but its efforts were not only poured into transporting Afghans to safety.
“They [Afghans] have come a long way to get to Qatar. For the youth, it was very hard and tough on them. Many are struggling with trauma, and it was important for Qatar to provide them with the support they needed,” said Al Khori.