Belal Arezou: The rise to international fame from a country which hardly have football news

When most of us think of Afghanistan; war, bloodshed, Taliban, hunger, tribal conflicts comes first to the mind. Football would be the last thing to come. On this editorial special, one player who has made a great impact for Afghanistan on the world stage is none other goal poacher Belal Arezou.
Belal Arezou-born in Kabul- Afghanistan on 28 December 1988. At age 11 his parents fled from the war torn nation to find peace, harmony and most importantly a future for their children. They ended up in Norway and Arezou started his football career playing in the youth/reserves teams of FK Senja, Grane ABK, FK Arendal and Fredrikstad.
          (Left to right, Islam Amiri, Coaching Staff,Belal Arezou, Walizada Sadiq and Israfeel Kohistani)

At the end of the 2008 season, Arezou made the switch to Asker FH, a professional football club in Norway. In 2009, Arezou, then aged 20, made an immediate impact by cementing a regular place in the starting 11 for the 2.division club (playing 3rd tier football) with 25 appearances and 4 goals to his name. His efforts in 2010 season saw him notch up 26 appearances with 7 goals in the league with 2 goals in 2 cup games. A marvellous campaign for the club, saw them promoted to Adeccoligaen, 1.division which is 2nd tier football in Norway. 2011 saw the club get relegated to the 2.division with Arezou notching up 19 appearances in a season which saw niggling injuries, and international games for the young 23 year old.

On the International seen, in 2010 was the great moment when Belal Arezou was called up to the Afghanistan Olympic team to play in a regional u23 tournament- South Asian Games 2010. Afghanistan took everyone by surprise to top the group stage with wins over India (1-0), Pakistan (2-1), and Sri Lanka (2-0). Nepal was again the opponent in the semi final (similar to the recent South Asian Football Federation Cup ) to once again win marginally 1-0. The Final was a one sided affair, 0-4 result to give Afghanistan a silver medal in the tournament, with Belal Arezou named top goalscorer after scoring each and every goal for Afghanistan, with a total of 6 goals. It was an amazing achievement for Afghanistan, and for Belal Arezou to produce such an excellent display for his native country was a treat to watch and for things to come.

Scoring for the national team did not end there for Arezou, he become the 2nd Afghanistan player in history to score in a World Cup Qualifying match. Obaidullah Karimi scored Afghanistan’s first ever World Cup goal in a 1-2 (1-5 on aggregate) loss to Syria in the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers, and Belal scored Afghanistan’s second in a 1-1 (1-3 on aggregate) draw to Palestine in the 2014 World Cup Qualifying match.

Goals kept coming for the silky two-footed poacher in his latest appearance for the national team in the recent SAFF Cup 2010. Afghanistan reached the final of the regional tournament, with an emphatic 8-1 victory over Brunei in the process. Belal notched up 6 goals to finish 2nd top goalscoring behind India’s Sunil Chetri.

His club success, and international fame has given the 23 year old the burden to continue the trade of scoring goals for Afghanistan in future games. His success has linked him to a number of clubs across Asia, with unknown Japanese 2nd division side interested, as well as Indian Premier league club East Bengal. It is only a matter of time that his goal scoring efforts for both club and country will get noticed.

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