Four years on from winning UEFA Futsal Cup bronze in Lisbon, Araz Naxçivan are back in the last four, only this time as hosts.
In the first UEFA final tournament of any kind to be staged in Azerbaijan, Araz take on FC Barcelona in the semis in Baku on Thursday night, among their team defender Elnur Gambarov. The 35-year-old Azerbaijani international spoke to UEFA.com about Araz's success and the passion for futsal in Baku.
UEFA.com: What does it mean to you to play in the UEFA Futsal Cup finals?
Elnur Gambarov: It is a big success for me personally and for our club. Baku is very happy about this event and the whole of Europe will see this tournament.
UEFA.com: It is four years since Araz reached this stage in the competition. What does it mean to back?
Gambarov: Everybody said it was just an accident that we got to the finals four years ago. But our club board and coaches set a goal of being there this time as well. We have beaten strong opponents to get to the finals, Sporting Clube de Portugal among them.
UEFA.com: How will hosting the event help your side?
Gambarov: Baku and all of Azerbaijan are looking forward to the finals. It's the first time we have hosted a major futsal tournament. We will have great support from our fans.
UEFA.com: How passionate are Azerbaijani fans?
Gambarov: They are very emotional, they love futsal very much. Sometimes it's hard to get tickets because they are sold out in advance. To be honest, our fans like futsal even more than football. Futsal is closer to our spirit. Youngsters play four against four, six against six in every street, in every schoolyard. The UEFA Cup Futsal will give us an impetus which will help us to make Baku, and Azerbaijan, a world futsal capital.
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