The loss has ruled the Lions of Khorasan out of the running for qualification.

Afghanistan had done very well to come back into the game after Sunil Chhetri’s free-kick curled into their net with eight minutes of regulation time remaining. However, just three minutes after Zubayr Amiri’s equalizer, Sahal Abdul Samad broke Afghan hearts with a majestic winner. Anoush Dastgir’s men faced yet another heartbreaking defeat after going down 2-1 against India.

The Lions of Khorasan have now slumped down to third in the group table, with no points to show. They no longer stand a chance to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

Head Coach Anoush Dastgir faced the media after a tough loss. Here are the excerpts from his post-match press conference.

Reaction to game

Dastgir voiced his disappointment at not making it to the finals after such a long fight. “I feel very sorry for my people in my country who waited a long time for his qualification. We wanted to qualify for the first time in our history.

“I’m not pointing fingers at any players and this failure is on me. We wanted to win the game and we didn’t come for a draw. In the end, India deserved the win. They scored one more than us and got the win.”

Various difficulties that Afghanistan faced

The Afghans have not had it easy to play at the level they are playing now. Dastgir asserted this in the interaction with the media.

“From the first minute, we wanted to dominate and attack the game. It’s very hard, to begin with a high-pressing style in these conditions. We needed to adapt and then attack. The plan was to attack from the second half and I used all my attackers in the end.”

“It’s not easy to play away games regularly. We never play at home. We’re enjoying it as much as possible. The more people in the stadiums the more we enjoy it. The players showed good character. I must take responsibility for this loss. I’m proud of the way they played today.”

Possibility of playing at home again

With their country in turmoil, Afghanistan have mostly relied on playing in other middle-eastern countries apart from Europe. When asked if he sees any possibilities of playing at home anytime soon, Dastgir said more important for them was peace in the country.

“For 14 years we are waiting for peace in the country. The plan is to have peace in the country and then hopefully we can have our home games in front of our own people. But, for now, it is hard to say when that day will come.”

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