FK Bakı and PFC Neftçi may have needed no introduction for Sunday's Baku derby but the men guiding them, Bülent Korkmaz and Vagif Sadygov, were less familiar having each been installed on 29 September.
Both coaches had only overseen two matches prior to the important meeting and it was Sadygov who had most reason to smile after his side won the Premyer Liqasi contest 2-0. Goals from Adrian Neaga and Marian Aliuţă earned Neftçi their first victory in the new era having lost their previous games against FK Qarabağ and FK Qäbälä while Bülent, who won 1-0 at PFK Turan Tovuz on his debut at the helm, is now facing up to consecutive defeats after falling to FC İnter Bakı last time out.
Bakı won the title last term but have struggled this season and also bowed out of both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Macedonian coach Gjokica Hadžievski was offered a new position at the club and former Galatasaray AŞ and Turkey defender Bülent took up the reins. "Today's Azeri football is like Turkish football was 15 years ago," said the former Kayseri Erciyesspor, Bursaspor and Gençlirbirliği SK and Galatasaray coach. "But I don't consider this a step back because the board has set big goals. What is important is that a club with a proper infrastructure is being built here for the years to come. The president plans to have as many trainees as possible playing for Bakı in coming years. I have the same vision: all my players are on trial."
While the 40-year-old is a big-name recruit for Bakı, Sadygov is not a new face at Neftçi having been a midfielder there during the 1980s before guiding them to third in the Azeri league in 1993 as coach. He has also had three spells with the Azerbaijan national side and when Neftçi dismissed Beyukaga Agaev they turned to Sadygov, and the Oilers appear to be on the right track again after the derby success. Sadygov, however, claims his charges still have some way to go. "I don't want to talk about what was happening before my arrival," he said. "Now everyone connected to Neftçi has to unite for a common goal. Victory over Bakı should help." With Neftçi now sixth, seven points off the summit, their outlook is arguably brighter that the champions, five points further back in ninth.
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