Hello and Welcome to the 5th part of my Afghan Hounds save – where I attempt to win the Asian Champions League with a squad of Afghan Nationals.
Today we cover the 2022 Asian Confederation Cup and the 2023 Afghan Premier League season.
Here it is again, the traditional list of players that possibly have never been mentioned before, getting their first mention when their dreams of professional football are over.
- Mansur Taheri at one point could have been a contender, came through my first intake and played 26 times, scoring 6 goals including some important ones in the Asian Confed Cup. Never got a pro deal and has been let go at the end of his youth contract.
- Suro Zahedi was someone that I chased for some time and is an example of how an improving squad can sometimes leave a man behind. He is a decent Central Defender for this level.
- David Alikhil ironically took Zahedi’s spot in the team when he arrived, but has been usurped himself.
- Ovays Ziahi has had 2 seasons to impress me in the midfield and has never really delivered. Tends to perform a bit better in the cups but I have a wealth of options.
- Shahar Zia has massively played his part in us becoming what we now are, superb in the first two seasons but has become a bit part player in the past 2. I take no enjoyment in telling him it’s time to say goodbye.
- Zohib Amiri is actually a decent player, BUT he moaned about first team football and got really shirty with me when we disagreed, I stopped considering him for the team and he leaves via the backdoor with his tail between his legs.
- Yar Ali Wafa also leaves – not because I am releasing him, the bar steward has decided to run down his contract and move on. Our best CD by far, 98 scout rated. Does not believe the rest of the squad are on his level. He is correct but I struggle to see where he will go from here..
Ali Yosufzai (1 app), Zohib Salem (4 app, 3 goals), Edriss Rizai (4 app), Milad Jafari (1 app), Milad Nourestani, Mustafa Saighani, Abdul Sabor Islam Amiri, Zubayr Kohistani and Jabar Zekria (all no apps) were all let go at the end of their youth deals.
This could be one of the quieter transfer windows.. With Yar Ali Wafa deciding to leave, we have become lighter than I am comfortable in the Central Defender spots. Hashmatullah Hashemi is still 16 and has come through Simorgh’s Academy and played the last 6 matches of the season for them. He has the usual 5* potential and would already be considered one of the better defenders at the club despite having everything to improve upon. We are fortunate that we don’t need much for our team.
August to October 2022
Very much mixed news… 11 of our squad have been called up for the Asian Games, fantastic that we are so heavily involved but thats 11 players we are missing in the next round of the Asian Confederation Cup. This sort of thing shouldn’t happen! 7 out of our best 11 are not available.
Sonbong Sports Group from North Korea our the opponents, amazingly our scouts are having difficulty finding out about them – who would had guessed that!
I’ve also just noticed that ALL of my goalkeepers are unavailable so a grey out player must make his debut.
I would have preferred more goals at home – 2 players are suspended for the return leg, both of them are Right Backs so this lead is not enough for me to be comfortable.
The gap between matches allowed me to strengthen the attack ahead of the league season, Sayed Hameed Naim has one of the highest finishing attributes in the league (13) and is a real team player. He can’t play in the Continental Cup but should give me a few more options in the league.
Beautifully North Korea knocked out Afghanistan from the U23 Asian Games, so we were full strength for the match in North Korea – and boy did it show… The ugliest victory of the year…
It’s 6,000km between Indonesia and Afghanistan, we continue our magical mystery tour of Asia and play Persatuan Sepak Bola Indonesia Jakarta with no CMs available thanks to too many yellows. We were strong and were able to pull away in the second half to record another comfy victory. We just need to keep things professional in the return leg to ensure we are in the Final.
We did, so we are..
A trip to Jordan in the final – Shabab Al-Ordon Club we are coming for you.
Yet again we have reached the final of the Asian Confederation Cup – twice it has gone to penalties, once we were victors, once we had to wipe away the tears. What will the third visit bring?
Whatever happens it is being done with Zaker Saadat – one of the worst injuries we have had on the save so far.
A common theme in these finals is dissallowed goals – 4 minutes in and we have our first as Anoush Amiri is flagged offside when converting. In the 25th minute, same deal, Amiri shoots and scores and is flagged offside.
The linesman must be broken – Amiri buries a header on 32 minutes but there is no flag? Is the Lino dead? Nope, he remains as he is and we take the lead. 80 seconds later it is 2 as Zefy Rehemi pings one past the stricken keeper.
Otham Ali reduces arrears from the spot just before half time.
If you have been following this save for a while, you know that we pick up a lot of bookings – and eventually it’s going to cost us, Bashir Ahmed Sharza picks up a 2nd yellow and we have 30 minutes to survive with 10 men.
Absolutely nothing happened (not even a highlight) for the next 26 minutes until 4 minutes from time and the 4th goal of the game… Jabar Mukhammad I love you more than you can ever know… Afghan Hounds are retaining the title.. (just..) Ayman Al-Maayta forced one over the line in the dying embers of the match but we held our nerve.
This is big, it means our reputation is improving and allows better players to be developed as the clubs are playing at a higher standard against better opponents – inching ever closer to the Asian Champions League.
In more minor news we have allowed our captain to move on (just before the season starts..). He is rubbish but performs decently, we have an array of 17yr old defenders ready to step up so I am not to worried.. Bashir Cutrupi, just shy of 100 games for the club in his 4 seasons. Bash, no one rated you but you delivered more than what was asked. Thank You…
We don’t start our league campaign until the 11th of Feb – a whole month after everyone else – no idea why! So we start our competitive action in 2023 in the Asian Confederation Cup against Şagadam FK Türkmenbaşy and it’s routine, three goals either side of the interval will be enough to ensure we progress. Rotated the side for the 2nd leg and gave some players a chance to build up the old match sharpness. The 2nd leg defeat was our 1st defeat in the competition for 31 matches (a record both for the club and for the competition)
Rooted to the foot of the table, we got our league campaign off and running away at Simorgh, who finished 2nd last season, a convincing 4-0 win on the opening day lays down a marker and tells everyone we continue to mean business. We will have lots of games in hand for a few months so our league position should always look false.
We are starting to become a lucky side as we almost gave Mawjhai Amu there first win of the season but David Mohammed scored a late equalisier that frankly we didn’t deserve. It seems that every season we play against Istiqlol Dushanbe in the Asian Confed Cup and we boast an 100% winning record, Sayed Hameed Naim took it upon himself to ensure that we made it 5 wins from 5 by scoring all of the goals in the away leg.
But before the 2nd leg, Holy Smokes BatMan!!!
An actual Golden Generation that looks amazing – even the worst player looks a class act. All of them are signed up which means in the next couple of months a complete review of the squad is needed to work out who isn’t developing and thusly should be moved on.
Hamidullah Abdourazi looks to be a set piece specialist. Decent Passing and Dribbling alongside the physical attributes too.
Hadi Gazazat has double figures for PASSING!! The physical side of his game needs work but the boy is only 15 years old.
The month ended with 4 more goals for Sayed Hameed Naim in the return leg as we won 10-2 on aggregate.
I’m not saying this Golden Generation is special but my best 11 has 5 of the intake in the side ALREADY!
The odds of the best nationals coming through our system are in our favour – we have the best reputation and facilities in the country so whilst we are not getting any wonderkids any time soon the best of the poor bunch will be ours straight away. 7 of them make their debuts in the 5-1 win over De Maiwand Atalan.
None of them can play in the Asian Confed Cup so we now have a couple of squads, one for league matches, and one for the continental games.
Altyn Asyr FK Aşgabat are an annoying side, they’ve beaten us before and we are lucky to leave Turkmenistan with a point – we have identical records after 2 games and only the winners progress so we can’t afford to drop any more points.
Sarfaraz Ali Sakhizada is on absolute flames this month – 5 goals is pretty impressive for a keeper. Man of the match, but no mention of the 2 penalties he scored!!
April is the moving month in Afghanistan – it’s when a lot of things can be decided – we have a big 3 matches in the Asian Confed Cup too. The big one is the Toofan game at the end of the month, both sides are unbeaten at the start of the month so it’s shaping to be a hum dinger!
Dordoy Bishkek have FM’ed us – well and truly, we had 20 shots to their 3 and the bulk of the possession and yet we have been defeated. It means we are 3pts behind Altyn Asyr FK Aşgabat so we have to win our remaining games to qualify.
After nearly a year without a club, Yar Ali Wafa has seen sense and returned to the fold.
I had that horrible sinking feeling against Altyn Asyr FK Aşgabat as we created chance after chance after chance but nothing fell, until we scored twice in the last 10 minutes to put us top of the group with 1 match left.
The statement about both us and Toofan being unbeaten going into our clash at the end of the month remained true until we met before we put them back in their place… We top the table for the first time this season, 2 clear with a game in hand. May sees 10 games in 26 days…
Right, It’s go time..
10 games in just shy of 4 weeks is going to be tough from a fitness point of view but we should have the depth of squad to ensure we pick up maximum points. Our slender lead means that we probably need around 20-23 points from the month. Not helped by the fact we play Toofan twice in 4 days!
Before we get to the League, we have a huge match – a must win, or at the very least, a must get a better result than Altyn Asyr FK Aşgabat – we are away against the side in 4th place. As it transpired we didn’t need a win as Alytn drew their game but we completed the job, and despite a little wobble we have got past the groups.
We can now put the Asian Confed Cup to one side until August and focus on the league. Back to Back victories plus a defeat for Toofan meant we went into our double header with an 8 point lead with 8 matches left which meant if we beat them twice then the race will be all but done. We dominated the first match but couldn’t find a way to score – we missed a penalty but a point hinders them more than us.
A few days later the same sides met but the outcome was vastly difference, they had a man sent off after 8 minutes and we never let them settle – 5-0 and it could have been more, 11 points clear now with 6 matches remaining with 7th and 8th place coming up in the next couple of days – it’s done..
The Toofan results set a league record of 6 straight matches without conceeding, so of course in the next game we decided to end that streak – 3-0 up and we only managed a draw against the worst side in the league – it will not matter as long as we bounce back with a win against Shaheen, and up stepped 16 year old Mohammad Nasim Amiri to bag his first hattrick for the club, he came through the last intake and looks a brilliant prospect for Afghanistan. 12 Finishing, 12 First Touch and some Ok physicalls for someone so young and small.
Toofan are falling off a cliff, they haven’t won in 5 and a 0-0 draw meant that victory would give us our 5th consecutive title and Nasim Amiri was the man to score the winner to make it happen.
Another unbeaten season as we are among the first teams to finish our season, despite starting a month after the league started and having a Continental campaign included – clearly the fixture computer is not a fan of my methods.
This league campaign felt a bit closer than the last one, but we still won by a street after Toofan collapsed towards the end of the campaign. We had a really strong squad and then a brilliant intake and nobody could match us – i’m not sure I can strengthen any position in the transfer window and my intention is to have a maximum squad of 35 players for next season (before intake) and we currently have 63 so I want to reduce that. My hope is that some of the players I let go can improve our competition and make future seasons closer in terms of where they finished. Toofan will have the Asian Confed Cup as well, their reward for finishing runner-up.
Mohammad Nasim Amiri got 14 goals in 17 matches after appearing in the seasonal intake, an avge rating of 7.64 caps off a brilliant campaign, Sayed Hameed Naim also got 14 in all comps (21 games) but I may move him on as others have higher potential. In all 20 players made more than 10 games and had an average rating north of 7.00, our future is incredibly bright right now. Player of the Year was Jabar Mukhammad, 11 goals, 9 assists, 8 man of the matches in 25 games, we are very lucky to have 3 highly talented Right Wingers and Jabar just about retains his place as 1st choice but it’s getting tight.
Sarfaraz Ali Sakhizada claimed 16 clean sheets (as well as 7 goals) to top a very good year. Both of those are records for a keeper.
Our reputation should improve and if we continue further in the Asian Confed Cup we should get closer to the Asian Champions League and that’s when the party really starts. For now, it’s serious culling time..
Thanks for Reading..