The Azerbaijan footballing federation was founded in 1992, after the country gained independence in 1991 after the fall of the old Soviet Union. There have been few highlights since in the footballing world. Their highest finish in a qualifying group was fourth, then managed under the German Bertie Vogts. Their highest ever position in the World Rankings was 90th, in 2010. In the 2018 WC qualifiers they got 10 points which was their highest ever tally. The next qualifying tournament for Euro 2020 was a total disaster where they had 7 losses and 1 draw, ominously that 1-1 draw was against Croatia the World Cup finalists (please god don’t let Ireland be the team that give up a draw to them in our group).
In their recent Nations League qualifying they managed to avoid finishing bottom as Cyprus unexpectedly finished last losing to Azerbaijan along the way. Like Ireland they had a lot of 0-0 draws recently and will be hoping to at least add some goals for this campaign. You can redeem your virgin Bet bonus code for a bet on football and other sports markets.
They have hired Gianni De Biasi as their new coach, a manager with a very good club record who has taken Serie B teams to promotion or kept smaller clubs in the top flight of Italy. He is a bit of a Sam Allardyce in that respect as a go to man as a saviour of clubs in crisis. In international football he also comes with a high pedigree as he led Albania to their first ever tournament, Euro 2016 in France. His first memorable result in that qualifying campaign was beating Portugal 1-0, Ireland fans will be hoping history will repeat itself here. While the expectation to qualify with Azerbaijan will be very low there will be hope he can achieve a stand out result or two against Ireland, Serbia and to a lesser extent Portugal. And if you were De Biasi you would think Ireland would be the most likely team on current form to achieve that result.
Baku is one of the farthest capitals to reach at 5200 km, so for any fans willing to make the trip be prepared for a planes, trains and automobiles journey.
Location: Beside Georgia and Armenia
Nickname: Milli (The National)
where they play: Baku the Capital
Stadium: Baku Oympic Stadium (mostly play here)
Manager: Gianni De Biasi
Star player: I don’t know, have a google and see if you can find one. Apologies to any Azerbaijan fans reading this 🙁
FIFA Ranking: 109
Fa Website: www.affa.az
Ireland’s Group A fixtures
Wednesday March 24: Serbia (away)
Saturday March 27: Luxembourg (home)
Tuesday March 30: Qatar (Not part of the group)
Wednesday September 1: Portugal (away)
Saturday September 4: Azerbaijan (home)
Tuesday September 7: Serbia (home)
Saturday October 9: Azerbaijan (away)
Tuesday October 12: Qatar (Not part of the group, match will be played in Europe)
Thursday November 11: Portugal (home)
Sunday November 14: Luxembourg (away)
Words: Carl McMahon