Afghanistan beat Scotland in a match played in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates - the first major victory for the team since the Taliban takeover of the country.

Before Afghanistan's opening match against Scotland on Monday, the national anthem and the tricolour flag made many Afghans emotional, including their players.

In Afghanistan, an economic crisis, aggravated by conflict and drought, has caused an acute food shortage since the Taliban takeover in August.

But many fans, including the Taliban, allowed themselves to be in a moment of sporting joy, as Afghanistan beat Scotland in a match played in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

Before the tournament, Afghanistan's team captain Mohammad Nabi acknowledged the crisis in the country but said the team was well prepared for the games. 

“Everyone knows that back home in Afghanistan there’s a lot happening and everything from the last few months,” he said in the pre-match press conference ahead of the game.

“But, as a cricket point of view, everybody is ready for this World Cup and we prepared well. The fans are really waiting because the only happiness in Afghanistan is cricket." 

In Kabul, Taliban fighters were seen hooked to the game alongside other Afghans at restaurants and cafes, and as the team won the match, senior Taliban officials took to social media to congratulate the Afghan national cricket team.

While the Taliban banned many forms of public entertainment, cricket has always been an exception even during their rule in the 90s.

"Congratulations to the team and wish them more success in the future," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of Afghanistan's current acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani - the head of the Haqqani Network, also expressed joy.

"Afghanistan won," he said.

The Taliban's representative-designate to the United Nations Suhail Shaheen also congratulated the Afghan cricket team and Afghans "for the historical win against Scotland". 

"Well done boys! May Allah favour you with future victories. Keep it up!" he said.

And even as the Taliban joined the rest of the nation in celebrating the win, divisions were still apparent over the Taliban current rule and the flag. 

Many Afghans on Twitter expressed their love and passion for the country as the cricket team sung the national anthem and raised the tricolor flag - not recognised by the Taliban.

When the Taliban ousted the country's former US-backed government, Afghanistan national flag was lowered from the presidential palace in Kabul. 

The group raised their own flag - a white banner with a Quranic verses in black.

Afghans protested the move saying they were being stripped off of their identity.

Media reports last month said the ICC might ban Afghanistan from participating in the  T20 World Cup if the team decides to play under the Taliban flag.

Despite the team's victory on Monday, it has an uncertain future in international cricket if Afghanistan under the Taliban fails to form a women's team.

According to International Cricket Council rules, a Test-playing nation must have a women’s cricket team.

The Taliban have not formally banned women from sports but many sportswomen went into hiding or are in exile in fear of persecution.

Source: TRT World