ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, September 6 – 2018 :- Asghar Stanikzai captain of the Afghanistan Cricket team batting during the training ahead of the Asia Cup held at Zayed Cricket Academy in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For Sports/Instagram.  Story by Amith Passela
Afghanistan captain  Asghar Stanikzai bats in the nets at Zayed Cricket Academy in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National

Afghanistan enter Asia Cup 'full of hope' as Asghar Stanikzai urges fans to 'be behind us in every game'

Afghanistan may be the least experienced team in their Asia Cup group, but captain Asghar Stanikzai is confident his side have the ability to progress to the Super Four.

Afghanistan, ranked No 10 in the ICC’s ODI rankings, have been placed alongside eighth-ranked Sri Lanka and defending champions Bangladesh in Group B for the biennial tournament being held in the UAE on September 15-28.

The top two sides from each group – Group A comprises India, Pakistan and Hong Kong – will progress to the Super Four stage, another round robin with the top two then competing in the final.

Stanikzai believes Afghanistan, who arrived in the UAE following a successful tour of Ireland, have every chance of qualifying from their group.


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“We are in a tough group where all three teams have equal chances,” he said after a training session in sweltering conditions in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“It is true we are the least experienced of the three teams in our group but we have arrived full of hope. Our first task would be to qualify for the Super Four stage.

“It is hard to say which two teams can qualify from our group. The matches are going to be close and it will be the best team on the day. We hope we can be the best team on the day.”

Afghanistan arrived in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, flying out from Belfast after beating Ireland in both 50-over-a-side and Twenty20. That victorious series came after Afghanistan swept Bangladesh in a T20 series in India in June.

“We played in tough conditions in Ireland and won the series in both formats, which isn’t easy for any Asian side to achieve,” Stanikzai said.

“This is our first ever series success against Ireland in Ireland. We travelled to Ireland two weeks early to prepare and this is what we have done ahead of the Asia Cup.

“We flew straight from Belfast to Abu Dhabi to adapt to different conditions. We arrived three days ago and spent some time in the gym and started training from Wednesday.”

Afghanistan will play three warm up games against local select teams in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday before their first game against Sri Lanka on September 17.

They have named three uncapped players - Sayed Sherzad, Wafadar Momand and Munir Ahmad - in the 17-member squad.

Sherzad and Wafadar, both pace bowlers, have represented the country in Test and T20 cricket, but wicketkeeper Munir is yet to play for the national side.

“All three have played and featured well in the domestic tournaments. We may provide them playing opportunities in the warm up games,” said Stanikzai.

Stanikzai was full of praise for the UAE, insisting it is the best possible host for the Asia Cup with the presence of large population from five of the six nations. The UAE stepped in to replace original hosts India because of ongoing tensions with neighbours Pakistan.

“Every team will be at home in the UAE with a fair share of the population here,” he said. “This is one of the best places to have the Asian Cup and I hope the stadiums will be full to capacity for every game.

“The Afghan fans always come to watch our team play and we want them to come in big numbers to be behind us in every game. They will be a big strength for us.”

Gulf rugby

Who’s won what so far in 2018/19

Western Clubs Champions League: Bahrain
Dubai Rugby Sevens: Dubai Hurricanes
West Asia Premiership: Bahrain

What’s left

UAE Conference

March 22, play-offs:
Dubai Hurricanes II v Al Ain Amblers, Jebel Ali Dragons II v Dubai Tigers

March 29, final

UAE Premiership

March 22, play-offs: 
Dubai Exiles v Jebel Ali Dragons, Abu Dhabi Harlequins v Dubai Hurricanes

March 29, final

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Director: Inas Halabi

Starring: Nijmeh Hamdan, Kamal Kayouf, Sheikh Najib Alou

Rating: 4/5

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Consoles: PC, PlayStation
Rating: 2/5

About Seez

Company name/date started: Seez, set up in September 2015 and the app was released in August 2017  

Founder/CEO name(s): Tarek Kabrit, co-founder and chief executive, and Andrew Kabrit, co-founder and chief operating officer

Based in: Dubai, with operations also in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon 

Sector:  Search engine for car buying, selling and leasing

Size: (employees/revenue): 11; undisclosed

Stage of funding: $1.8 million in seed funding; followed by another $1.5m bridge round - in the process of closing Series A 

Investors: Wamda Capital, B&Y and Phoenician Funds 

The specs

Engine: 6-cylinder, 4.8-litre
Transmission: 5-speed automatic and manual
Power: 280 brake horsepower
Torque: 451Nm
Price: from Dh153,00
On sale: now

The specs: 2018 Nissan Patrol Nismo

Price: base / as tested: Dh382,000

Engine: 5.6-litre V8

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 428hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 560Nm @ 3,600rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 12.7L / 100km


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


Bayer Leverkusen 2 Bayern Munich 4
 Alario (9'), Wirtz (89')
Bayern: Coman (27'), Goretzka (42'), Gnabry (45'), Lewandowski (66')

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.


Galaxy: Dos Santos (79', 88')
United: Rashford (2', 20'), Fellaini (26'), Mkhitaryan (67'), Martial (72')


Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Meydan race card

6.30pm: Maiden; Dh165,000; (Dirt) 1,200m
7.05pm: Handicap; Dh170,000; (D) 1,200m​​​​​​​
7.40pm: Maiden; Dh165,000; (D) 1,900m​​​​​​​
8.15pm: Handicap; Dh185,000; (D) 2,000m​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
8.50pm: Handicap; Dh185,000; (D) 1,600m​​​​​​​
9.25pm: Handicap; Dh165,000; (D) 2,000m

If you go

There are regular flights from Dubai to Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines with return fares from Dh1,700. Nashulai Journeys offers tailormade and ready made trips in Africa while Tesfa Tours has a number of different community trekking tours throughout northern Ethiopia. The Ben Abeba Lodge has rooms from Dh228, and champions a programme of re-forestation in the surrounding area.

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