The sport of mini-football, similar to futsal, was popular in the former Soviet Union and, soon after independence, Azerbaijan organised its own leagues. The national team entered the 1996 FIFA Futsal World Cup but failed to qualify, and that soon prove a recurring theme until they made their breakthrough at UEFA Futsal EURO 2010.
Before that, Azerbaijan still managed to post some useful results over the years, with narrow friendly defeats by Spain and Portugal, and they were unbeaten in 2007 qualifying, drawing with the Netherlands and eventual finalists Serbia and beating Finland 8-3. They only missed out on the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup play-offs following a 3-2 loss to the Czech Republic, and under Alesio, a Brazilian coach who had much success at Kairat Almaty, Azerbaijan made it to the UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 semi-finals before qualifying again this time around.
Andrey Tveryankin (goalkeeper), Serjão, Felipe
Date of birth: 27 September 1968
Playing career: Voltorantin Pernambuco, FC Barcelona (twice), Inter Ulbra Porto Alegre, CR Vasco de Gama, MFK Spartak Moskva, TTG-Java Yugorsk
Coaching career: MFK Spartak Moskva (player-coach), TTG-Java Yugorsk (player-coach), Kairat Almaty, Araz Naxçivan, Azerbaijan
José Alesio da Silva had plenty of success as a futsal player and is now making his name as a coach. His playing career began in his native Brazil with Voltorantin Pernambuco, where he won two state championships before a 1993 transfer to Barcelona. In his first season in Spain, he was voted the league's best player, but returned to Brazil in 1998 with Inter Ulbra, helping his team win both the national and Rio de Janeiro state titles followed by the Interclubes international tournament. In 2000, he joined Vasco de Gama and again immediately won Rio state and Brazilian titles, before returning to Barcelona and then joining Spartak Moskva, where he lifted the 2003/04 Russian Super Cup.
Alesio was appointed player-coach at Spartak and although he later made his way back to Brazil to rejoin Ulbra, he was soon on Russian soil again in another player-coach role at TTG-Java Yugorsk. In 2007, Alesio was appointed coach of Kairat, leading them to the Kazakhstan title and the UEFA Futsal Cup finals before moving on to lead Azerbaijan and securing their first qualification for a major tournament at UEFA Futsal EURO 2010, where they finished an impressive fourth. Later that year, he also led Araz to UEFA Futsal Cup bronze with a side based around his national squad.
Qualifying top scorer
2010: Fourth place
2007: Did not qualify
2005: Did not qualify
2003: Did not qualify
2001: Did not qualify
1999: Did not qualify
1996: Did not enter
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