Match № 26
The match № 27, play-off, seventh tournament day
AZERBAIJAN – LATVIA 1:1 (0:1), pen. 3:0
January 9th, 2014, St. Petersburg, Peterburgsky SCC, 300 spectators
Referees: Vladimir Lapkin, Ilya Ivanov, Pavel Yakovlev
Azedrbaijan: Sahin (Gasimov, 88), Mammadov A., Madatov (Jabrailov, 46), Hashimli (c), Muradbayli, Nahavandi (Safarzade, 30), Zamanov (Kama, 63), Jafarov, Mammadov T., Nabiyev, Mustafazade
Head coach: Nikolai Adam
Latvia: Kurakins, Jekabsons, Bezushchonoks (c), Vasiļjevs (Kupchs, 56), Krushatins, Jurkovskis, Baikovs (Balinsh, 60), Ryabokons (Koļesovs, 67), Mordatenko (Dubrovskis, 76), Chernomordijs, Zhmilevskis (Strazdinsh, 60)
Head coach: Vladimirs Babichevs
Goals: Krushatins (16), Mustafazade (76)
Yellow cards: Jekabsons (34), Muradbayli (41), Jurkovskis (71), Kupchs (85)
Best players: Bahlul Mustafazade, Andris Krushatins
After match comments
Head coach of the team Azerbaijan Adam Nikolai:
– First of all I want to come back to the match against Japan. I've watched the recording and now I want to apologize: there was no off side and the red card to our player was fair. Talking about today's match, I had told my players that we had to win it, but we haven't solved this task in the main time. First half was terrible, second was OK, that's all I can say.
– Can you estimate the penalty shootout? You have substituted your goalkeeper just before it.
– I know this goalkeeper for the whole period of my work with Azerbaijan. I know his strong moments and let him to the pitch in 2 minutes till the end of main time. You had a chance to see his strengths.
– You have substituted goalkeeper during the main time of the match, but during the added time Latvian team had two sharp scoring moments and could win the match. Weren't you afraid of defeat on last minutes?
– Talking about penalty shootout, I hope my colleague will agree with me, it has no sense for the coach. We failed the end of the second half, we failed the whole match, as we lost our victory in the match with Greece – these moments have great sense for me, these are the moments to analyze. But penalty shootout is not so important. Yes, it's nice to win, it is good for the moral of the team, but it means nothing. Talking about my fears, I wasn't afraid of anything. I took my decisions, they can be good or false but they are mine.
– I will ask you about your decision in this case. You gave the title "the best player" in your team to Bahlul Mustafazade. After the penalty shootout didn't you want to change your decision to favor of the goalkeeper? He scored penalty kick and saved all three kicks of the opponents on his own.
– I named the best player not for the scored goal, or any other single action. I named him "the best" for his playing during all 92 minutes of the match. He spent his best half on this tournament and more important is the fact that he played not on his usual position. All of this makes his contribution to the team's performance really huge. There are several good, skilled players in my team. When I see their improvement it makes me happy, that is the aim of my work.
Head coach of the team Latvia Vladimirs Babichevs:
– When the match goes on well and you can play good you must win. But to win you must be an experienced team. In general, I can say we have some space to develop. When you slightly loosen the game it breaks and then you must try hard to pull yourself together. That is what had happened to us in the second half, and it means we have to grow up little by little to show that we are not a children's team but a team of adult men. When we succeed, such games will be played to the victory.
– It seemed to me that you started the match planning to press all over the pitch and control the ball constantly. What had happened to the players that made a completely different team in the second half?
– One mustn't rely on the opponent, mustn't cede the game. One must play as he is apt to, maybe supposing that the opponent won't cause troubles. One must win himself. One must score himself and play himself, play to the end. In other case, if you cede the initiative, somebody is going to take it and make use of it. This is pure arithmetic.
– But at that, you didn't encourage them forward. You didn't tell them what to do.
– Yes, I wanted to see if we had a team and team leader, somebody who guides the others. I wanted to see if the team is able to put the wits together without help. And I saw there were no such people.
– You are not the first coach who tried such experiment. Dmitry Homukha in the third match decided not to help his players.
– You see, I work with this team for a little time and I want to understand what we are able to, what qualities we have and what we lack as a team. Mind you, in the interval I said to the team the same things that I'm saying now. There are no wins falling from the sky, you must conduct the game to the win. And if they have character and self-esteem they will play the next game to win.
– Can you comment the penalty shootout?
– Well, it is just the same. They couldn't pull the wits together, and penalty kicks are a psychological mirror. Say, they haven't deserved it psychologically. It must be deserved. The captain did well by going to kick first. This was bad luck, but in a whole, as I said, they haven't deserved it.