How Afghanistan women’s football teammade it to Australia for the first time in a decade. Will they win the World Cup?
Afghanistan’s women’s football team is all set for a big 2014 World Cup debut, as they try to make the jump to the top of the global game after a 15-year absence. The national side has been one of the most successful in all of football, winning the AFC Women’s Asian Cup six times, and the Women’s African Cup of Nations five times, making three appearances at the Women’s World Cup, finishing fourth in 2002, and being knocked out the following year in the group stage.
They’ve also made the semifinals of the Olympics twice, with a quarterfinals appearance both years. But this is the first time that the national side has travelled to Australia in over 20 years, and they’re facing stiff competition in the World Cup.
The U-17s team will be competing in the same group as Scotland, Brazil and New Zealand, while the U-20s will be facing Turkey, Germany and South Korea (although Germany will be the sole home-based side). While the U-17s will feature some familiar faces, the U-20s will be taking a huge leap up the world rankings, going from a 16th-place standing in the world to ninth. It will be a difficult challenge for the girls, not just because of the competition, but because the majority of the side coming through the ranks is relatively unknown, and many will probably never have played in a competitive international game before.
The team will be headed up by the all-time leading scorer in international football, Adila Amini, who was recently named the best player of the 21st century. She’ll be supported by the likes of Fatima Agha and Safa Hossain, who’s also been a key player all over the past 10 years. Her side