Being beaten by Hong Kong in the 2006 ACC Trophy semi-final was actually beneficial to Afghanistan. For all their talent, the players had yet to develop a winners' tenacity. Placed in the ICC World Cricket League Division Five as a result of its ACC ranking, it faced playing up to 25 matches to qualify for the ICC World Cup 2011. Building in confidence and competence, it won Division Five by the narrowest of margins before going through Division Four unbeaten. Afghanistan went on to win Division Three in Argentina to go through to the final World Cup qualifying tournament in South Africa.
Although it won its first two matches against Denmark and Bermuda, defeats to Kenya, the Netherlands and the UAE left it in fourth place in Group B. It was enough to get it into the Super Eights but it didn't take any points through and even a famous victory against Ireland, followed by wins against Scotland and Namibia, was not enough to give it one of the top four qualifying spots. A second win against the Scots, however, saw it finish fifth.
Afghanistan's profile rose still further in 2010 when it won the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers to reach the finals in the Caribbean. Although it lost both matches - to India and South Africa - the experience will stand the team in good stead for the future. Afghanistan was awarded Associate membership in June 2013. Most recently it has again qualified for the World T20, to be held in Sri Lanka in 2012.
Afghanistan's next major goal will be to reach its first 50-over World Cup.