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Afghans Lose in Return to Soccer

September 28, 2002

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BUSAN, South Korea (AP) _ Afghanistan had a rocky return to international soccer Saturday, with its under-23 team losing 10-0 to Iran in its Asian Games opener.

Afghanistan’s former Taliban rulers, who considered sports frivolous, turned soccer stadiums into public execution grounds.

Most of the nation’s best players died in wars, fled the country or stopped playing.

The war-torn nation fielded a weak side that gave up goals in bunches to Iran, a medal contender.

Iran’s Alireza Vahedi Nikbakht opened the scoring with goals in the 11th and 32nd minutes, and added three more in the second half. Ali Daei scored twice in the last three minutes and Javad Nekounam also had two goals.

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