Home 2016-17 – Hummel
Afghanistan’s strategic position straddling Central and South Asia has long made it a prime target for conquest by marauding armies, powerful empires and bored superpowers with nothing better to do. Evidently the Afghan people REALLY don’t take kindly to foreign occupiers though, with the British, Soviets and (as much as they’d like to think of it as withdrawal with honour or whatever) the Americans all sent packing with tails firmly between legs. Unsurprisingly, amidst this background of near constant strife, football didn’t exactly flourish and the national team were completely inactive between 1984 and 2003. Indeed, the sport was banned altogether under the Taliban regime who instead used the Ghazi Stadium in Kabul to host the public execution of adulterous women.
After the group’s ousting, and despite the best playing surfaces being laden with war rubble, bomb craters and the cranial matter of errant housewives, the beautiful game tentatively re-established itself. In 2003 Afghanistan entered World Cup qualification for the very first time. They were, unsurprisingly, a tad rusty and duly received a 13-0 aggregate spanking from Turkmenistan. Still, baby steps taken, subsequent campaigns showed marked improvement culminating in historic wins over both Cambodia (twice) and Singapore during the 2018 qualifiers.
In between the Afghans even found time to pick up some silverware, defeating India 2-0 to lift the 2011 SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Championship and ascending to an all time high FIFA ranking of 122 into the bargain. Not bad for a country who couldn’t get a game for 19 years.
Ah, good old Hummel. In their 1980s heyday the Danish kit wizards regularly churned out iconic strips for the likes of Spurs, Coventry and Denmark’s national side, but today the depressing prevalence of Nike, Adidas and Puma means they’ve largely slunk to the periphery.
The upshot of all this is that when called upon, instead of simply slapping a badge on a template shirt and knocking off early for an open sandwich and an overpriced Carlsberg, Hummel’s designers actually try and create something unique for the team in question. The intricate patterns on the hem and sleeves apparently represent traditional wood carvings from Kabul, the lion heads woven into the fabric recall the team’s “Lions of Khorasan” nickname and 1922 is the year Afghanistan’s Football Federation came into being, making it Asia’s seventh oldest.