Published September 12, 2013
KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghans have welcomed home their national soccer team with exuberance and joy, a day after the squad won the war-weary country its first international trophy in the sport.
President Hamid Karzai greeted the players at the airport. The team then headed to the stadium, where they were cheered by thousands of fans.
Afghanistan beat India 2-0 in the South Asian Football Federation Championship.
Wednesday's victory brought a rare moment of unity to this ethnically fractious nation, where the former Taliban government once used soccer stadiums to stage executions.
For hours after the win, Afghans danced in the streets, honked horns and fired guns in celebration.
Before being ousted by U.S.-led troops in 2001, the Taliban forbid Afghans from watching TV. On Thursday, Afghan TV networks broadcast the players' return live.