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Top teams to watch through FIFA World Cup tournament



(Last Updated On: November 19, 2022)

On Sunday, Qatar will become the smallest country and the first Middle Eastern country to ever host what is considered one of the world’s greatest sporting events – the FIFA World Cup.

Thirty-two teams will take part in 64 matches over 29 days and league play around the world has paused – with soccer’s focus solely on Qatar.

Here are a few things to watch when group games get going:

Top Teams

Brazil (No. 1 in FIFA ranking). Neymar, Vinícius Júnior and the rest of the flair-filled team are peaking at the right time. The big question is whether a first World Cup title since 2002 is on the horizon?

Brazil will open their World Cup campaign against Serbia on Nov. 24

Belgium (No. 2 in FIFA ranking). The “Golden Generation” is gradually breaking up but there’s still Kevin De Bruyne leading the Belgian charge. There is doubt about the fitness of Romelu Lukaku, however.

Argentina (No. 3 in FIFA ranking). No World Cup title since the days of the great Diego Maradona. This will be the first World Cup since his death in November 2020 and Argentina has improved under coach Lionel Scaloni, with Messi still at its core and leading the team on a 35-match unbeaten run.

Argentina is one of the favorites to win the 2022 World Cup.
France (No. 4 in FIFA ranking). The defending champions. Still the country with the most depth to its squad, despite an injury list that includes Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. Now with Mbappé and Karim Benzema leading the attack. No team has retained its World Cup title since Brazil in 1962.

England (No. 5 in FIFA ranking). The team has hit a bad patch of form — winless in six games — but has a strong track record in recent major tournaments. England was a semifinalist at the World Cup in 2018 and a finalist at the European Championship in 2021.

England was a semifinalist at the World Cup in 2018.


Lionel Messi, Argentina. The seven-time world player of the year might have been saving his 35-year-old legs for one last push at a World Cup winner’s medal that, to many, would solidify him as soccer’s greatest player. He is in stellar form for Paris Saint-Germain at the moment.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal. He has won the European Championship but the leading scorer in men’s international soccer hasn’t played in a World Cup final, let alone won one. He’s 37 years old now and no longer first choice at Manchester United.

Kylian Mbappé, France. The star of the last World Cup at the age of 19 and he is only getting better. The speedy striker could match Brazil great Pelé in being a champion at his first two World Cups.

Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium. Widely regarded as the world’s best midfielder, his driving runs and crossing are among the best sights in soccer. Belgium will be thankful he is arriving in Qatar healthy.


There are eight groups of four teams, with the top two advancing to the 16-team knockout stage.

There will be four games back-to-back per day — for most of the first two sets of group games, then simultaneous kickoffs for the last two games in each group.

There’ll be no break for the knockout stage, which begins the day after the group stage ends. The first day without a match comes on Dec. 7 — the 17th day of competition.


Qatar vs. Ecuador, Sunday. The first match of the tournament and always a date to save on the calendar.

Argentina vs. Mexico, Nov. 26. The first of the big continental rivalries in the group stage, with Messi potentially sealing his and Argentina’s spot in the last 16.

Spain vs. Germany, Nov. 27. Surely there can’t have been many bigger group-stage matches than this at a World Cup? Two recent champions, two giants of European and world soccer.

Iran vs. United States, Nov. 29. It has been labeled as “The Mother of All Games Part II.” Just like at the World Cup in 1998, the two countries will meet in the group stage in a politically charged matchup. Diplomatic relations have yet to be restored between the nations since being severed in 1980.

Ghana vs. Uruguay, Dec. 2. Anyone remember the night of July 2, 2010? In the last minute of extra time in a World Cup quarterfinal match between Uruguay and Ghana, Luis Suarez deliberately stopped the ball with his hand on the goalline, got sent off, only for Ghana to miss the penalty and lose in a shootout as Suarez celebrated on the sideline. Revenge would be sweet for Ghana.


Injuries have hit some of the world’s best players ahead of the tournament.

Among those definitely missing are France midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, Germany forward Timo Werner and England defender Reece James.

Thanks to Ariana Television Network, Afghan football fans will share in this extravaganza as matches will be broadcast live throughout the tournament.
All you have to do is tune in to Ariana Television to get the live coverage of one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
For the full broadcasting schedule CLICK HERE


Torch relay starts final leg as Hangzhou prepares for Asian Games



(Last Updated On: September 21, 2023)

The torch relay for the Asian Games 2023 began its final stage in Hangzhou in China on Wednesday morning, marking the start of the final countdown towards the much-anticipated inauguration of this grand event.

Scheduled to open on Saturday, September 23, the 19th Asian Games is poised to become the largest edition to date. It will feature 12,500 athletes from 45 countries and regions, all vying for glory across 40 sports, 61 disciplines and 481 events.

During Wednesday’s relay, Olympic badminton champion Chen Yufei, who clinched the women’s singles crown at Tokyo 2020, held the honor of being the first torchbearer among the 203 individuals entrusted with this significant role, CGTN reported.

Notable figures such as accomplished gymnast Zou Jingyuan, who has garnered an impressive trio of world titles on the parallel bars, and tennis star Wu Yibing, the first male player from the Chinese mainland to secure an ATP Tour title in the Open Era, also graced the relay as distinguished bearers.

The flame has journeyed across 11 cities in Zhejiang Province, namely Huzhou, Jiaxing, Shaoxing, Ningbo, Zhoushan, Taizhou, Wenzhou, Lishui, Jinhua and Quzhou, before returning to Hangzhou on Wednesday to culminate its final leg. The relay has seen the participation of over 2,000 torchbearers, spanning a wide age range from 14 to 84, each contributing their unique spirit to this showpiece event.

In line with the Games’ theme of being “Green, Smart, Economical, Ethical,” the torch relay ingeniously integrates a digital component. The online relay, known as the “Digital Torchbearer,” was inaugurated after the Asian Games flame collection ceremony on June 15.

So far, an astounding number of over 100 million people have engaged in the Asian Games’ online torch relay, exemplifying the widespread enthusiasm and involvement surrounding this momentous occasion.

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ACB name squad for Asian Games Men’s Cricket competition



(Last Updated On: September 21, 2023)

Afghanistan Cricket Board’s (ACB) Selection Committee on Wednesday announced the 15-member AfghanAbdalyan Squad for the Asian Games Men’s Cricket Competition, which will be played from September 27 to October 7 in Hangzhou, China.

Veteran All-rounder Gulbadin Naib will lead the AfghanAbdalyan squad which features Mohammad Shahzad, Karim Jannat, Sediqullah Atal, Fareed Ahmad Malik, Qais Ahmad, and Afsar Zazai, who have represented Afghanistan in the past.

The squad also includes Noor Ali Zadran, Zubaid Akbari, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Sayed Ahmad Shirzad and Shahidullah Kamal who recently featured in the ACC Men’s Emerging Asia Cup 2023 in Sri Lanka.

The AfghanAbdalyan squad also features Wafiullah Tarakhil, a talented Afghanistan U19 middle-order batter, who was part of the Afghanistan Future Stars lineup during the Afghanistan Home Tri-Series against Bangladesh U19 and Sri Lanka U19 in Abu Dhabi in March-April earlier this year.

As per the tournament’s rule, AfghanAbdalyan will feature in the event from the quarter-finals stage, which is scheduled to take place on October 3-4, followed by the semi-finals on October 6, and the grand finale on October 7 in Hangzhou, China.

The third-place play-off match which will be played for the bronze medal, will also be held on October 7.

AfghanAbdalyan Squad for the Asian Games Men’s Cricket Competitions:

Gulbadin Naib (C), Mohammad Shahzad (VC & WK), Sediqullah Atal, Zubdaid Akbari, Noor Ali Zadran, Shahidullah Kamal, Afsar Zazai, Wafiullah Tarakhil, Karim Jannat, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Fareed Ahmad Malik, Nijat Masoud, Sayed Ahmad Shirzad, Qais Ahmad and Zahir Khan.
Reserves: Nangyal Kharoti, Mohammad Ibrahim and Allah Noor Nasiri.

ACB Chief Selector Asadullah Khan: “We are aiming to provide these players with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their abilities on the international stage. This Asian Games event is also a good opportunity for them to do well and further groove for the higher level cricket. Our buildup has already been started for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and we are working to prepare a strong group of players for that event.”

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World Cup 2023: Warm-ups, schedules and venues



(Last Updated On: September 20, 2023)

Australia and India will have to switch to World Cup mode just three days after they finish their ODI series next month in Rajkot when they take on Netherlands and England respectively in warm up matches on September 30.

Afghanistan will meanwhile face South Africa in their warm up match on September 29, the same day that Pakistan meets New Zealand and Bangladesh faces Sri Lanka.

India will travel to Guwahati for their first warm-up, while Australia will fly to Trivandrum for their match. Both these sides, along with Afghanistan and New Zealand have warm-ups scheduled in different cities.

The other six teams will all be stationed in one city for their warm-ups. Hyderabad plays host to Pakistan, while Guwahati hosts England, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The southern coastal town of Trivandrum will host Netherlands and South Africa.

India and Pakistan will round off the tournament’s warm-ups by playing Netherlands and Australia respectively on the final day on October 3, before the teams disperse towards their respective venues for their tournament opener. All warm-up games are day-night fixtures that will commence at 2pm local time, with all 15 members of the playing squad permitted to play.

In a late development, ESPNcricket reported Wednesday afternoon that police in Hyderabad have expressed their inability to provide adequate security for the Pakistan-New Zealand warm up match due to festivals taking place there at the time.

The teams are scheduled to play a warm up match on September 29 but Hyderabad Cricket Association has taken the decision to let the game be played “behind closed doors” – or without spectators.

Observers say this will impact the fans who bought tickets for the match. There has been a question mark over this warm up match after Hyderabad police told the local association that it would struggle to meet the security demands put in place by the ICC for World Cup matches including the warm-ups.

This is because of two major religious festivals, which take place around the same date as the match and involve large crowd gatherings.

Hyderabad is one of three venues, along with Trivandrum and Guwahati, that will host the warm-up segment of the tournament, to be played between September 29 and October 3, before the tournament proper starts on October 5.

Once again Ariana Television Network (ATN) will bring all the fun directly into the homes of cricket fans across Afghanistan. In addition to broadcasting World Cup matches live daily, ATN will also broadcast the warm up matches live.

So with just days to go before this thrilling tournament gets underway, be sure to keep an eye on our website and social media platforms for all updates and broadcast schedules.

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