As the 7th Afghan Premier League (APL) football annual tournament ended on Thursday evening, thousands of Afghans from different parts of the country appeared at Afghanistan Football Federation stadium in Kabul to watch the match.
The Afghan Premier League was launched in 2012 and since then it brings thousands of Afghans together to watch matches between the eight teams every year.
The final match had more than 10,000 viewers at the stadium including key guests.
The thrilling match was between Shaheen Asmayee, from the capital, Kabul, the four times title holder of APL, and Toofan Harirod, from the western zone, at the Afghanistan Football Federation stadium in Kabul.
Toofan Harirod had won the APL cup when the league was first launched in 2012.
The Shaheen and Toofan fans said they are excited and that the environment at the stadium helped them to have happy moments.
“In all the matches that I watched, I think Toofan Harirod was always shining,” said Yalda Orfan, a Toofan fan.
“We want peace and security to have the chance to watch sport events,” said Shakila, a Kabul resident.
The stadium has the capacity of 7,000 spectators, but over 10,000 people were in the stadium on Thursday and hundreds others were waiting outside.
Among those watching the match in the stadium, there were people who had come from outside Afghanistan to watch the APL final match.
Besides Kabul residents, a big number of people had come from provinces.
“The football matches put a direct impression on the spectators,” said Farhad Amin, a Farah resident.
“I am from Kabul zone, but I am a supporter of the guest team,” Kabul resident Zabihullah Jawad said.
“Allah may bring such evenings always in our country which will help our people to stay united,” said Wali Hotak, a national MMA fighter.
Children and their parents were also watching the match at the stadium while cheering their favorite teams.
“I am happy that I am watching the match closely,” said Nastaran, a Kabul resident.
“Watching football at the stadium is more joyful,” said Yasmin, a Kabul resident.
“I only wants peace,” said Masih, a Kabul resident.
A number of Afghan politicians and officials were among the audience in Thursday evening match.
“The match was outstanding. It created excitement among the spectators to the last moments,” said Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
“The level of the competitions was very high and the teams appeared strong,” said Nawed Nader, Toofan Harirod captain.
“In this round, there were also problems in terms of time, budget and weather, but again the matches of this tournament were great,” said Keramuddin Keram, head of Afghanistan Football Federation.
Shaheen Asmayee, De Maiwand Atalan, Toofan Harirod, Simorgh Alborz, Mawjhai Amu, De Spinghar Bazan, De Abasin Sape, and Oqaban Hindukosh were the eight APL teams representing all 34 provinces in Afghanistan.
The 2018 season of the Afghan Premier League, centered around the message “One nation – One voice”, kicked off earlier this month after it was postponed due to insufficient financial support.
Eight zones are represented in the APL – which is staged over six months, starting with regional selection tournaments and then ending with eighteen national league matches in Kabul.
Over the past six years, the annual tournament has grown tremendously in popularity and draws thousands of spectators and millions of TV viewers each year.