Indian national team: Know your rivals - Azerbaijan

With the Indian national team set to face Azerbaijan in an international friendly on 27th February, gives a detailed insight on the East European outfit...
After a dismal display against Oman, Team India are now set to face Azerbaijan as they resume their preparations for the upcoming Challenge Cup next month which gives them an opportunity to book a berth in the 2015 Asian Cup. provides you all the relevant information you need on the Azerbaijan National Football Team.

1) FIFA Ranking: The National team are presently ranked 109th in the World and 44th in Europe. Their highest ever FIFA ranking was 90th in November 2010, following their shock victory over Turkey. Their lowest ever FIFA ranking is 170th, long back in June 1994.

Berti Vogts (In Right) During The Singapore Friendly

2) Head Coach: They are coached by Berti Vogts, the former manager of Germany who famously led them to Euro triumph in 1996. He has also been in charge of Kuwait, Scotland and Nigeria earlier. In club football, he was appointed the manager of Bayer Leverkusen in November 2000 and he helped them secure a Champions League spot in that very season.

As a footballer,Vogts is one of the most capped German players with 96 appearances and was part of the 1974 World Cup winning team.

3) Initial Roots: The Azerbaijan national football team played its first friendly matches against Georgia and Armenia in 1927 for the Trans-Caucasian Championship in Georgia.

During the Soviet Era, the team never played any international matches.

After the country gained it's independence in 1991, AFFA — Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan — was formed.

4) Never Played In A World Cup:
The country has never qualified for a World Cup, and for the 2014 edition's qualification stages, they are grouped alongside the likes Portugal and Russia.

5) Continental Tournaments: From 1960 to 1992, the team never participated in the European Championships as a separate nation as they were part of the then USSR. Following it's independence, they are yet to qualify for the premier continental tournament, having had already failed to make the cut for the 2012 edition.

6) Performance At Junior Level: Very much like the senior team, the U-21 squad is yet to make any significant mark and have never managed to qualify for the UEFA U-21 Championships.

7) Most Valuable Players: 23 year old Elvin Mammadov is the second highest goal-scorer for Azerbaijan with seven goals and 27 caps to his name. The FC Baku midfielder famously netted against Finland in the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers. However, he will not be featuring against India.

Former Anzhi Makhachkala man Mahir Shukurov is a formidable presence in the defense and he is likely to don the national colours against the Blue Tigers.

8) The Leader: The team’s captain is Rashad Sadygov, who is a veteran of 79 national caps and plays for Qarabağ in his native country. The solid defender was given the arm-band in March 2004, following the retirement of Azerbaijan's all time leading scorer Gurban Gurbanov.

9) Last Match: The National team played against Singapore on 24 Ferbruary 2012, and were held to a 2-2 draw, after an injury time equalizer by the Asian outfit. A penalty conversion from captain Shahril Ishak and a last-minute equaliser from Shahdan Sulaiman erased the 2-0 lead Azerbaijan had earned with goals from Rauf Aliyev and Mohir Shukurov.

10) Head-to-head: India and Azerbaijan are yet to face each other in an international match.

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