Pages of history - ANALYSIS - VIDEO

18 December 2023 12:10
Pages of history - ANALYSIS - VIDEO

The last round of the group stage of the European Cups was played this week, marking another milestone for Azerbaijani football.

Qarabag retained second place in the group by defeating Hacken 2-1 in the VI round of the European League, according to

With this, Gurban Gurbanov's students were called to the playoffs of the tournament. The champion of Azerbaijan went down in the history of the country's football as the first team to leave the group in the continent's second-class club tournament. Our European Cup history continued to be enriched with such big and small firsts and successes.

To Europe with "Turan".
29 years ago, on August 9th, 1994, the Azerbaijani football club "Turan" visited Turkiye to play against "Fenerbahce" in the UEFA Cup. Despite losing 0-5 in Istanbul, it was a significant moment for the club as it was their first time participating in the European Cup. The team from Tovuz became the national champions and qualified for the continental stage, writing their name in Azerbaijani football history. Unlike the first two champions of independence, "Neftchi" and "Qarabag," the people of Tovuz were the ones who made the first page of Azerbaijani European history.

The first from Suleymanov
We had to wait a year for the first goal. In the first season we were represented by a team, and there was a longing for goals. August 22, 1995... Although "Kapaz" could not even resist "Austria" in Vienna, the capital of Austria, Yadigar Suleymanov's goal was remembered as a historical first. The player of our representative who lost with the score of 1:5 became the author of our first goal in the European Cups.

The owner of the first point

Although there is no scoring principle in the cup, unlike the championship matches, this does not apply to the European Cups. Because in continental tournaments, every point is important for ranking. August 24, 1995... That day was marked by the first European Cup score for Azerbaijan. Saddened by 5 consecutive defeats, Azerbaijani fans were consoled by the goalless draw of "Neftchi" with Cypriot APOEL in Baku. The duels with the Island representative 28 years ago were also our debut in the Cup of Cups. After all, we already went to Europe with two clubs.

First win in Europe
The 1996/97 season was the third appearance in Europe. The first victory happened at that time. July 17, 1996... "Neftchi", the most established club of Azerbaijan, defeated Sofia "Lokomotiv" in Baku - 2:1. Although this victory was not enough for our team, which lost by a large score on the road, to pass the stage, the success in the UEFA Cup was written down in history as the first.

"Green light" for the champion
The next step of UEFA, which often changes the format of European Cups, was profitable for the champion of Azerbaijan. Our country, which was not admitted to the Champions League in the first three years, made its debut here in the 1997/98 season. July 23, 1997... "Neftchi" conceded two unanswered goals in a home match against Polish "Vidzev". But this match was marked by the debut in the continent's most prestigious club tournament.

Success with Mushfig's double
In the 1998/99 season, the number of clubs in Europe increased to 4 for Azerbaijan, which began to be represented in another tournament - the Intertoto Cup. But it was necessary to wait to experience the joy of calling the stage. June 27, 1999... "Qarabag" lost to Haifa "Maccabi" in Baku with a score of 0:1. But football fans of the whole country welcomed it as a holiday. This was not without reason. "Qarabag" won 2:1 with Mushfig Huseynov's double on the trip and became the first Azerbaijani club to tour Europe. The longed-for success in the first 5 seasons was achieved in the Intertoto Cup.

Joy at the end of 210 minutes
The last year of the last century was marked by another success. The Azerbaijani club won the Champions League for the first time. July 19, 2000... Having lost 1:2 in Latvia, "Shamkir" hosted "Skonto" in Baku. Westerners, who recorded the first major victory in our football history, scored a historic success with two goals in extra time - 4:1. Badri Kvaratskheliya, the father of Khvicha Kvaratskheliya, who made a name for himself in Europe today in Italy, made history as the author of our first hat-trick in European Cups with three goals in that match.

A caravan starting with "Karvan".

Most of our success in Europe today is due to the current Europa League, formerly known as the UEFA Cup. We entered the continental stage with this tournament. However, our teams, who have won the Intertoto Cup and the Champions League, have not been successful in the UEFA Cup for many years. July 27, 2006... "Karvan", which defeated Trnava "Spartak" 1:0 in Baku, was a guest in Slovakia. The representative of Yevlakh won on the road with the same score and already achieved historic success in the competition, which is the second-class club tournament of the continent.

3rd stage excitement
It has become common for our teams to call a stage in Europe. Fans expected more. July 12, 2008... That day also came. Just as we called the first stage, our two rounds were also realized in the Intertoto Cup. "Neftchi", which eliminated "Nitra" first (2:0, 1:3), also passed "Germinal". After a 1:1 draw in Belgium, a goal in Baku was enough to qualify for the 3rd round.

The innovation brought about by the format change
In 2009, UEFA made further changes in the format of the European Cup. The European League also got its current name. This marked a new chance for middle and lower-ranked countries like Azerbaijan. The result was not expected. All of a sudden, our two teams played in the playoffs of the qualifying stages of the European Cup. True, "Baku" achieved this by losing to "Levski" (0:0, 0:2) in the Champions League. "Qarabag " advanced to the playoffs after passing two stages - "Rosenborg" (0:0, 1:0) and "Honka" (1:0, 2:1).

First time in the group
Although "Qarabag" twice and "Baku" were within one step of the group stage, it was not possible to call the playoffs. August 30, 2012... will not be forgotten as the day when a new page or even a new chapter was opened in Azerbaijani football. "Neftchi" beat APOEL, which it failed to beat in Baku (1:1), with a score of 3:1 in Cyprus. Beyukagha Hajiyev's team made history as the first Azerbaijani club to be placed in a group in Europe. Our country was already represented in the main stage of the European League.

Two incredible seasons
The 2015/16 season was marked by writing the next pages in the history of Azerbaijani football. Even a year ago, " Qarabag ", which fell into the group of the European League, became a permanent traveler on the path opened by "Neftchi". Gurban Gurbanov's men were no longer alone when they advanced to the main round for the second time in a row. August 27, 2015... " Qarabag " played against "Young Boys" (1:0, 3:0) in Baku, and "Gabala" played against "Panathinaikos" (0:0, 2:2) in Greece. Both our teams managed to call the stage. For the first time in history, two Azerbaijani clubs advanced to the European League group. "Gabala" also made history by winning 4 qualifying rounds. A year later, both our teams repeated the success by reaching the group again. "Gabala" went down in history as the first European club to pass 4 rounds for the second time in a row.

Here we come, giants!
"Neftchi", followed by " Qarabag " three times, and "Gabala" twice experienced group excitement in the European League. It was already the Champions League. August 23, 2017... A few days ago, like "Galatasaray", the Turkish giant turned upside down from "Parken". But 6 years ago, this stadium in Copenhagen was conquered by " Qarabag ". Gurban Gurbanov's team eliminated "Copenhagen" in the playoffs of the Champions League, where they were promoted for the first time, thanks to Dino Ndlovu's away goal - 1:0, 1:2. Thus, for the first time, Azerbaijan was also represented in the group of the Champions League, which included European giants.

The first spring of our football
" Qarabag ", which paved the way to the Champions League, made this success common by falling into the group every year. The fact that the Aghdam club played in the group was no longer a success, but normal. Gurban Gurbanov and his team were expected to write new history. And this happened. November 4, 2021... " Qarabag " competed in the Conference League after 7 successive group stage upsets in the Champions League and Europa League. Our representative won the fourth round of the group stage against "Kayrat" in Kazakhstan with a score of 2:1 and qualified for one of the next rounds. The last two rounds would clarify the question of 1/8 finals or playoffs. But the qualification was obtained for the second half of the season, for the spring European Cup. This was another achievement in our football history.

Most recent date

" Qarabag ", distinguished by its consistent history, draws attention every time by turning those successes into a tradition in the following years. The Aghdam club, which advanced to the playoffs of the Conference League in the 2021/22 season, qualified for the same round a year later. This time, the team went there as the third place in the European League. The spring of the European Cup and the playoffs of the Conference League were becoming regular. New success was needed. And that happened. December 14, 2023... The victory over "Hacken" in Baku made it possible to see the spring in the European League and play in the playoffs.

After two months
"Qarabag", which left its signature on most pages of our European Cup history, can make another first in just two months. For this, it is necessary to call the playoffs, to advance to the 1/8 finals. It is not easy to knock out opponents from the Champions League. But Gurbanov and his team coped with so many difficult tasks that...

Hussein Vagif