- Afghanistan will have a new manager for the upcoming match against Qatar
- It comes amid unrest within the squad who are angry about their treatment
- CHRIS SUTTON: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is a CLOWN – It all starts
Former Manchester United academy graduate Ashley Westwood has been officially unveiled as the new manager of the Afghanistan national team.
The surprise move comes amid much unrest within the team’s playing group, with eighteen players threatening to boycott their upcoming World Cup qualifier against Qatar.
Claims have been made that they are victims of ‘substandard’ treatment by the Afghan Football Federation, with the Guardian reported that it had seen a letter signed by three of the squad’s players, claiming that players were unhappy with the way the team was being managed.
Afghanistan will begin its World Cup qualifying campaign on Thursday, November 16 and will also play India, Kuwait and Qatar as part of the qualification process.
And in a bid to help them reach the 2026 tournament, they have hired former Crewe, Wrexham and Sheffield Wednesday player Westwood.
According to reports on social media, the 47-year-old has done so agreed a one-year contract with the team just eight days away from their match against Qatar.
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Photos of Westwood’s unveiling by the Afghanistan Football Federation were posted on social media on Wednesday, with images of him holding up the national team’s football shirt during a press conference.
The former defender enjoyed a 17-year career that started in Manchester United’s academy.
After graduating from the Red Devil’s academy, the centre-back signed for Crewe Alexandra for a fee of £40,000, before playing for clubs across the EFL including Northampton, Bradford and Wrexham.
He went on to score a total of twenty goals in all competitions throughout his career, spending the lion’s share of his career at Sheffield Wednesday where he made 94 appearances.
He retired from professional football in 2012, after a brief spell at Portsmouth, and subsequently took up the position of assistant manager at the club before going on to coach at Blackpool and Blackburn.
Westwood was subsequently hired as manager of Bengaluru FC, his first managerial position. He would go on to captain the I-League title in 2014 and become the youngest coach to ever win the domestic competition.
He would oversee 75 games in Bengaluru before taking charge of Malaysian Super League side Penang, before a stint as technical director at ATK.
But taking charge of Afghanistan could be one of his toughest appointments yet, with several players claiming the country’s football federation is involved in corruption and is now refusing to play.
‘The final straw came in the last camp when a large group of us decided we had had enough – 18 players got together and said, “If we want to continue, we have to put an end to this.” Noor Husin said , according to the Guardian, who also plays in midfield for Southend United.
‘We really want change. We want to help domestic players because the money they get from FIFA is not used properly. We have the worst possible flights and we have to stay in substandard hotels.
“We came together as a group because we want football in Afghanistan to progress and we believe it is not progressing with the people in charge at the moment.”
Afghan Football Federation (AFF) general secretary Behram Siddiqui has also previously denied allegations that AFF bosses have also pocketed money owed to players by FIFA and developing the sport in the country.
He said: “Since the regime transition in August 2021, there has been no transfer of funds from FIFA or external sources to the football federation’s bank account. Therefore, previous actions regarding this matter are not within my knowledge.”
IT’S ALL GOING OFF!