Belfast Telegraph

We know how to win our country's biggest ever game, say Azeri stars

By Steven Beacom

Azerbaijan players have vowed that they won't let Northern Ireland overpower them tonight as was the case at Windsor Park earlier in the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Back in November in Belfast, Michael O'Neill's side walloped Azerbaijan 4-0 with three of the goals coming through set-pieces.

That was Azerbaijan's first defeat in Group C and after making a promising start they now find themselves in fourth spot, three points behind second-placed Northern Ireland.

Halfway through the qualifiers, the Azerbaijan squad have stated that this evening sees the most important fixture in the nation's history as they bid to get back on track to qualify for the country's first major tournament.

To do it, Robert Prosinecki's players are clear they have to stop Northern Ireland's threat in the air. Defender Ruslan Abisov said: "We know Northern Ireland play strong football in the air. They have scored many goals with headers but we will work out this problem."

Goalkeeper Salahat Aghayev added: "We have trained hard physically and tactically for this game and our team is ready.

"They score goals from headers and in the air and we know corners and free-kicks will be a danger for us. We now know Northern Ireland. We must be calm and play our own game."

Midfielder Gara Garayev states that tonight's clash is the biggest his country have played in. He said: "This match is the most important in the history of Azerbaijan football. If we win our national team has a chance of going to the World Cup.

"The atmosphere is good in our squad and everyone believes we can win."

Belfast Telegraph


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