Afghanistan president praises cricketers
Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, added his voice to those of exuberant cricket fans welcoming Afghanistan's young team home Monday after they stayed on course for possible qualification for the 2011 World Cup.
The team was met at the airport in Kabul by sporting officials and a small throng of supporters who presented them with garlands before leading them through the city in a noisy, flag-waving cavalcade.
More fans waited at the stadium, famous for its Taliban-era executions, but the numbers were limited for security reasons, one cricketing official said, with the threat of extremist attacks ever-present in Afghanistan.
In a statement, Karzai described the team and their achievement in winning the final of the World Cricket League Division 5 in Jersey as "a source of pride and honour for Afghanistan.
"With this victory, the national cricket team of Afghanistan showed that despite years-long war and financial problems, Afghans can achieve many glories.”
Karzai's government is battling to rebuild Afghanistan after decades of war but faces a growing Taliban-led insurgency, booming narcotics trade and corruption undermining morale.
Success at the tournament means Afghanistan, along with Jersey, will compete in the ICC World Cricket League division four in October, taking them one step further along the road to possible World Cup qualification.
Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo