AZERBAIJAN – LATVIA 1:1 (1:1)
January 4th, 2016, St. Petersburg, Peterburgsky SCC, 300 spectators
Best players: Pilaga Mehdiyev, Daniels Balodis
Post match comments
Tabriz Hasanov, Head coach of team Azerbaijan:
– We’ve had an interesting game. It was very tense in the beginning, but then the guys found their strength. Certainly, the opponent was making it difficult for our defense, especially with the headers. But, as it seemed to me, both teams deserved to win, and a final draw is a good result.
– Despite nervous starting minutes, your team began the match playing actively, but shortly after you gave up the initiative to the opposing side. Why do you think this happened? – We are not prepared yet after the vacations. And the players did not get used yet. It’s their first big tournament as they never took part in such a competition before. It’s our starting match and nervousness left a mark on play. It’s going to be easier later on. Furthermore, our team is one year younger than the competitors. They have this childish temper to dribble, but this it is not always successful. I think we won’t be worrying during next games.
Alexander Basov, Head coach of team Latvia:
– Firstly, I’d like to wish everybody a Happy New Year and to thank the organizers for regular invitations to the tournament. On the game, this was our first match, so it was a bit nervous. It’s the first time that the guys came to a tournament, so everything is somehow new for them - new experience on a new stadium. Sure we’d like to win but a draw is also acceptable, especially given that in the end team Azerbaijan had good chances to score and win. I thank my guys for the complete devotion, and we will be preparing for the next game.
– First part, or even most part of the game, you were counting on counterattacks. But your strikers lacked speed, and Azerbaijan defenders were faster. Was it because the guys are still not shaped enough?
– Right, we have our season over in the end of autumn, and they were on vacations. It’s only one week that we are together, so the guys are not ready to perform as they are demanded to. That helped the Azerbaijan side to be sometimes faster. The key is that our tactics was correct. But I won’t agree that we played only on counterattacks. Azerbaijan was leading the play, but there were no problems with defense, except for the little mistake in the first half which led to the conceded goal. I hope we will perform better in the next match, stronger than today.
– What did you feel on the last minutes when the game could have turned upside down? Both you and your opponent could have scored.
– Sitting on the bench I said that on the last minutes you can play till a mistake, either in defense or attack. Anyway, neither of the two teams managed to score. Though surely there was some nerve on the pitch, some mess, anxiety, but this is football. At some point you even become euphoric experiencing such moments. The important thing is that the guys play football and try to show their best skills.
– However, the opponent managed to score from the play, and you were able to “tear Azerbaijan gates open” only from a penalty spot.
– Well, this is also a skill. The opponent striker played brilliantly individually – posed himself right, forced the defender back, and sent the ball in the back of the net. And our player took risk in the penalty area trying to pass the defender and was awarded with a penalty kick. This is also an art – to outplay and to make the opponent commit a foul. Well, and you still have to know how to perform a penalty kick.
– Do you have regular penalty kickers? I saw your guys dispute before the kick.
– Yes, we have two penalty kickers, we fixed them before the match, and one of them, Roberts, went to kick. Maybe they were just tired and were disputing on who was in better condition. Anyway, Uldrikis did it well.
#6 Azerbaijan - Latvia
Azerbaijan - Latvia highlights