Afghanistan head coach unwanted statement against Pakistan before crucial WC match

Afghanistan head coach unwanted statement against Pakistan before crucial WC match

Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott said Sunday that his team are looking forward to renewing a “passionate” rivalry with Pakistan which has often reflected the stormy political relationship between the two neighbours.

Both sides are in desperate need of a win at the World Cup.

Pakistan have lost their last two games after a pair of opening wins. Afghanistan pulled off a shock victory over defending champions England but have have also slumped to three defeats.

Adding spice to Monday’s crucial clash is the current cross-border friction between the two nations.

Pakistan has seen a sharp rise in militant attacks since the Afghan Taliban surged back to power in Afghanistan in 2021.

The militant assaults have been focused in regions abutting Afghanistan, and Islamabad alleges some are being planned on Afghan soil – a charge Kabul denies.

Islamabad has also recently announced a plan to evict hundreds of thousands of Afghan migrants living in Pakistan.

There have been intense cricket clashes as well.

At the 2019 World Cup match in Leeds, which Pakistan won by three wickets, riots between the two sets of fans erupted outside the stadium.

Afghanistan fast bowler Fareed Malik and Pakistan batsman Asif Ali almost came to blows in a Twenty20 game at Sharjah last year.

“I think for them (Afghanistan players) it’s a rivalry that excites them,” said Trott on Sunday.

“I think it’s a rivalry that sometimes in the past has been very passionate.

“We’ve had very close games as well. Hopefully tomorrow isn’t very exciting and we win by a lot. It’s just the nature of the rivalry, I should say.”

He added: “Both teams, I think, respect each other, but are very desperate to win.”

Trott said he wasn’t aware that Pakistan had unsuccessfully demanded the International Cricket Council switch Sunday’s game to another venue.

Reports claimed that Pakistan were keen to dent the threat posed by Afghanistan’s world-class spin attack. -APP/AFP