‘I’m really happy’: Akbari celebrates Afghanistan call-up with second Roar goal

It’s been a week to remember for Brisbane Roar’s Rahmat Akbari, who celebrated his first senior international call-up with a second career goal in Saturday’s win over Wellington Phoenix.

Akbari, 21, opened the scoring at Moreton Daily Stadium to continue a special few days, highlighted by his inclusion in the Afghanistan national team for a training camp and two friendlies in Turkey later this month.

The midfielder will travel to Europe to link up with Anoush Dastgir’s 28-man squad following the Roar’s Isuzu UTE A-League clash with Perth Glory on 19 March.

As the matches are not competitive fixtures, the Jaghori-born former Joey will still be eligible to represent Australia even if he gains playing time.

“I’m really happy,” Akbari said. “It’s an opportunity for me to get a bit of exposure and be an international footballer.

“It’s been in the back of my mind. Anoush the Afghanistan national team coach has been messaging me for a few years now. Now that COVID has settled down, I’ve had the opportunity to be called up for this camp in Turkey.

“I’m not 100 per cent locked in yet. I still have Australia, I still have Afghanistan. This is just to see how the team is, how the federation is, and see if the coach likes me.”

Having debuted as a 17-year-old for the Roar in October 2017, Akbari has now chalked up more than 50 appearances for the club across all competitions.

Rahmat Akbari

He said he had received a huge number of messages from family and friends congratulating him on the news.

“It’s overwhelming, the messages I’ve got from them,” he said.

“Whether I choose Afghanistan or Australia it doesn’t matter, they will always support me. But the messages have been overwhelming. I think I’ve got about 400 or 500 more followers [on social media] in the last couple of days!”

Roar Head Coach Warren Moon said he was delighted to see Akbari achieve international recognition.

“Rahmat is an exceptional young talent,” Moon said.

“We’re very proud of him as a club. It’s a national team call-up and there’s a lot going on in that part of the world. It’s a really proud moment for him and a tough decision but he goes with our blessing.

“We hope he does really well for Afghanistan.”