The Afghanistan national football team formed in 1922. The team affiliated to FIFA in 1946. Six years later Afghanistan became a founding member of the Asian Football Confederation. Despite this early start, the team did not play an international match until a 1941 draw with Iran.
A mixture of wars and internal regimes discouraged football between 1984 and 2001. The team played no matches in the period. The Taliban effectively banned the sport from 1996 to 2001.
Since the millennium, Afghanistan has improved drastically in competitive matches. The team has also attempted to qualify for the world cup three times. Despite this upturn in fortunes, football is a very small part of life in a country still recovering from war.
2011 was a watershed for the Afghanistan national football team, bringing success in several international competitions. The team reached the final of the South Asian Football Federation Championship Cup and were only narrowly defeated by the vastly more experienced India. Fortunes have also improved in the confederation’s Challenge Cup, where 2010 and 2012 ended with strong runs in qualification if not outright success.