Shayesteh, the 24-year-old free-kick specialist, says he is really looking forward to the match against Japan on Tuesday. (Photo: AFP)
Ahead of Afghanistan’s crucial World Cup 2018 qualifying match against Asian giants Japan, star midfielder Faysal Shayesteh says his team has nothing to lose.
Afghanistan will take on four-time Asian champions at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on Tuesday.
Afghan team’s second qualifying round has included one loss and one win. They suffered a crushing 6-0 defeat against Syria, but bounced back strongly to beat Cambodia 1-0.
Japan are riding high on confidence after beating Cambodia 3-0 at home to sit third in group E. On the other hand, Afghanistan suffered a 2-0 loss to Thailand in a friendly match in Bangkok on Thursday.
Shayesteh, the 24-year-old free-kick specialist, grabbed headlines during last year’s AFC Challenge Cup after scoring a goal from 50 yards out against Turkmenistan.
Gearing up for the important game against Japan, Shayesteh told fifa.com that he is really looking forward to the high-voltage contest against the champion side.
“I am really looking forward to this game. All eyes will be on them and we have nothing to lose. It may be unrealistic for us to think about victory, but crazy things can happen in football,” he said.
Playing World Cup qualifiers against a heavyweight team like Japan shows how the Afghan team has evolved and progressed over the years.
Gearing up for the important game against Japan, Shayesteh told fifa.com that he is really looking forward to the high-voltage contest against the champion side
“If you had told me a few years ago that we would play a World Cup qualifier against players like Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa, I definitely wouldn't have believed you,” he said.
The star midfielder’s family left for Netherlands at the height of civil war in Afghanistan when he was still a toddler.
Fascinated by the game of soccer from early age, he played for a local club in Netherlands before moving to Bulgaria to play for FC Etar in 2013.
Following his impressive performances for FC Etar, which were noticed by many football clubs in Asia, he was recruited by Thailand's Songkhla United last year.
“I learned a lot about European football with FC Etar,” he said. “But I am happy to have come to Thailand. Thai football has been developing quickly in recent years and it provides me with a good setting to improve.”
Shayesteh made his debut for Afghanistan in a friendly match against Kyrgyzstan in 2014.
Following the injury to main striker Milad Salem, he has been asked by head coach Slaven Skeledzic to play as a forward.
“I have a free role, though, so I don't have problems with it. I just do what is the best for the team,” he said.
All eyes will be on this young star when Afghanistan takes on Japan in the all-important World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday.
The team is clubbed with Syria, Japan, Singapore and Cambodia in group E. After the match against Japan on Tuesday, Afghanistan will play Cambodia on November 12 and Singapore on March 29 2016.
Due to security concerns, Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) had earlier decided against hosting the qualifiers in Afghanistan. The venue was later shifted to Iran.
The game against Japan is crucial for Afghanistan to stay in contention for the World Cup 2018. The two teams have met just once before, in which Japan claimed a 2-0 win
The game against Japan is crucial for Afghanistan to stay in contention for the biggest football tournament in 2018. The two teams have met just once before, in which Japan claimed a 2-0 win.
The World Cup qualification process will decide 31 of the 32 teams that will play in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place between June 14 and July 15 2018 in Russia.
Ariana Television Network (ATN), one of Afghanistan’s largest privately owned television network, has acquired the exclusive broadcast rights for Afghanistan’s qualifying matches.
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