Sept. 20, 2013
UC Davis men's soccer alum Ahmad Hatifie, a member of Afghanistan's national men's soccer team, defeated defending champion India 2-0 at Dasarath Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal, to capture the 2013 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) title.
In addition to earning Afghanistan's inaugural international championship, Hatifie's team redeem itself after losing the 2011 SAFF championship match to the same opponent, India, a team that captured its sixth SAFF championship in front of a partisan crowd in New Delhi.
Afghanistan's victory also dashed India's hopes of winning its third consecutive SAFF crown.
In front of a capacity crowd that also included a fleet of Afghan government officials, the team took an early 1-0 lead by scoring in the eighth minute.
As was the case in its previous match against host Nepal, a contest that saw Afghanistan score early en route to a victory, the championship match ended in a similar result, albeit with a twist. Unlike the semifinal event that saw Afghanistan advance to the championship match by a 1-0 score, striker Sanjar Ahmadi doubled his team's lead over India with his goal in the 63rd minute to push Afghanistan's advantage to a two-goal margin.
That 2-0 score remained untouched throughout the rest of the contest.
A throng of supporters back in Afghanistan reportedly took to the streets to celebrate their team's victory, over a country with a population 40 times greater, mere moments after the final whistle.
Even though Afghanistan, a founding member of the Asian Football Confederation in 1954, has never played in the World Cup, the program has risen dramatically in FIFA's most recent rankings.