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Season review: Azerbaijan

Published: Wednesday 27 May 2009, 10.49CET
FK Bakı emerged as champions in the final 14-team Premyer Liqasi season, with playmaker Amiran Mudzhiri the star of the show, while there was a cup for FK Qarabağ and a surprise European finish for modest Simurq PFC.
Season review: Azerbaijan
Bakı celebrate winning the Azerbaijani title ©Rafael İbadov
Published: Wednesday 27 May 2009, 10.49CET

Season review: Azerbaijan

FK Bakı emerged as champions in the final 14-team Premyer Liqasi season, with playmaker Amiran Mudzhiri the star of the show, while there was a cup for FK Qarabağ and a surprise European finish for modest Simurq PFC.

FK Bakı emerged as champions in the final 14-team Premyer Liqasi season, with Azerbaijan's top division reduced to 12 clubs from next term. The bottom two – FK Bakili and FK MOIK – were relegated, but there will be no promotions from the first division.

Champions: FK Bakı
The blue-and-whites denied local rivals FC İnter Bakı a second successive title but it was a close-run thing, with just a single point separating the two sides. Perhaps the crucial encounter came on 28 February when Gjoko Hadzievski's Bakı won their away fixture against İnter 1-0.

Cup final: FK Qarabağ 1–0 FC İnter Bakı
Gurban Gurbanov's charges seized their chance to play in the UEFA Europa League next season as İnter were denied silverware in another competition. The 20-year-old Vagif Dzavadov scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the 57th minute.

European places
Bakı – UEFA Champions League, second qualifying round
İnter Bakı – UEFA Europa League, first qualifying round
Simurq PFC – UEFA Europa League, first qualifying round
Qarabağ – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round

Player of the Year: Amiran Mudzhiri (Bakı)
When Georgian playmaker Mudzhiri joined Bakı from Anorthosis Famagusta FC in 2007, most assumed his career was over, but Hadzievski has continued to bring the best out of him. Now 35, he was the champions' top scorer with 12 goals.

One to watch: Tural Narimanov (FK Karvan Evlakh)
Just 20, centre-back Narimanov boasts the confidence and composure of a veteran, and while his team had a miserable season, finishing ninth, he was a popular player and received regular calls into Berti Vogts' national team.

Surprise package: Simurq PFC
While the likes of PFC Neftçi, FK Olimpik Bakı and FK Khazar Lankaran foundered, modest Simurq – from Zagataly, population: 26,000 – worked minor miracles, finishing third in the table with 53 points and earning a European place.

Leading scorer: Walter Guglielmone, İnter (17)

Number: 10
The number of Azerbaijani titles now held by playmaker Mahmud Gurbanov. Despite having won the title with FC Kapaz (3), FK Shamkir (2), Neftçi (2), Khazar, İnter Bakı and now Bakı, the 36-year-old is in no mood to quit, saying: "I want to help Bakı in the Champions League and I wish to finish my career with a team from my home city. I'm glad that FC Ganja have been promoted to the second tier."

Quote
"The mullah was asked: 'From what side it is better to carry a coffin – from front or behind?' He answered: "Hold it however you want, but Allah forefend you to be inside."
Olimpik Bakı coach Asker Abdullaev's cryptic answer to a question about whether his side would struggle playing on an unfamiliar artificial pitch.

 

Last updated: 27/05/09 11.34CET

Related information

http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/association=aze/news/newsid=833399.html#season+review+azerbaijan

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