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We're revelling as the surprise package, says Azerbaijan chief

By Adam McKendry

Published 13/10/2016

Defiant: Robert Prosinecki insists his players deserve to be second
Defiant: Robert Prosinecki insists his players deserve to be second

Azerbaijan head coach Robert Prosinecki has described his team as the surprise package of the World Cup qualifiers so far and says they don't fear anyone ahead of their trip to Belfast next month.

Prosinecki's side, who are ranked 133rd in the world, have begun their campaign with a bang, starting with an away win to San Marino as expected, before a surprise 1-0 victory over Norway.

Their 0-0 draw in Prague against the Czech Republic on Tuesday night, the same result Northern Ireland managed in their opening fixture, leaves them second in the group on seven points.

Northern Ireland trail their next Group C opponents by three points following Tuesday's 2-0 defeat to leaders Germany, but will have the chance to make up that ground when they meet Azerbaijan at Windsor Park on November 11.

But Prosinecki says his team believe they can defeat anyone after their unexpected start to the campaign.

"Yes, I agree we are the revelation of the World Cup qualifiers, no one expected such results by Azerbaijan, but we believed we can match anyone," the 47-year-old Croatian said.

"We changed a lot of players and believe in what we do, which is most important.

"We really, really work a lot! We convinced players to believe in us and in their own capabilities, now they believe they can surprise everyone.

"Victory over Norway and a draw in the Czech Republic are really big results, and now there is football euphoria in Azerbaijan, people believe in us, they have never had such results.

"Every day we get better. We are tough, have good timing in duels and play serious football. These results are not by accident.

"Even in the Euro 2016 qualifiers we surprised Norway in Oslo (0-0 draw), Croatia at home (0-0 draw) and lost tightly in the last minutes in Italy (3-1). We want Azerbaijan to play football, not only to defend."

Belfast Telegraph

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