TURSUNZODA, Tajikistan -- Afghanistan's national soccer team lost today to Palestine 2-0 in Asian Zone qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in a game played in Tajikistan for security reasons, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
It was a home game for Afghanistan but had to be played in the southwestern Tajik town of Tursunzoda because of poor security in Afghanistan. There were few Afghans in the crowd, but the stadium was filled with thousands of Tajik football fans.
Murad Alyan opened the scoring for Palestine in the 28th minute. In the second half, Palestine failed to convert a penalty shot that was stopped by Afghan goalkeeper Hamidullah Yousufzai.
Palestine secured the win with a late goal by Ismail Alamour (89th minute).
The second leg of the qualifier will be played in the Palestinian territories on July 3. Afghanistan must win by at least two goals to advance to the second round of the Asian Zone qualifying and a matchup against Thailand.
Afghan coach Yusuf Korgar said the fact his team has to play its home games in foreign countries is proof that Afghan football players do not have the appropriate conditions to train and prepare.
In other Asian Zone qualifying games today, Bangladesh beat Pakistan 3-0 at home.