Kargar’s players hungry for a trophy.
Afghanistan are determined to avenge a humiliating defeat at the hands of India two years ago as they bid to win their first South Asian Football Federation Championship title in Wednesday’s final.
Afghanistan coach Yousef Kargar said his team had not forgotten the 4-0 drubbing by India in their first ever appearance in the final in New Delhi in 2011.
“That final affected the players, coaches and everyone else a lot,” Kargar said at a press conference on Tuesday ahead of the final in Nepal’s capital, website goal.com reported. “Everyone in Afghanistan is passionate about football and want us to win.
“The players are working hard and they don’t want to go home without the cup.”
Afghanistan, ranked 139th in the world compared to India’s 145th, are seen as favourites to win the final after beating hosts Nepal 1-0 in Sunday’s semi-final.
In their group matches, the Afghans beat Bhutan 3-0 and tamed Sri Lanka 3-1 before being held to a goalless draw by Maldives.
India, in contrast, struggled through the group stage. They beat Pakistan 1-0, drew 1-1 with Bangladesh and slipped to a shock 2-1 defeat against Nepal.
But a 1-0 win over Maldives in Monday’s semi-final gave India’s Dutch coach Wim Koevermans confidence that his team can clinch a hat-trick of titles after winning the SAFF Championship in 2009 and 2011.
He predicted a tough encounter against the Afghans, describing them as a vastly improved side.
“It is going to be an interesting game because Afghanistan are a good team,” he said, according to goal.com. “They have improved a lot over the past two years. But we have our own goals and are confident of doing well.
India will be playing their ninth final in 10 editions of the SAFF tournament, which features teams from South Asia. They have won the title six times.