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Mirjavadov sets a high bar for Khazar

Published: Monday 14 September 2009, 16.19CET
Six-time Azeri title-winning coach Agasalim Mirjavadov told uefa.com he hopes his FK Khazar Lankaran side can be the first Premyer Liqasi outfit to make it to the group stage of a UEFA club competition.
by Erkin Ibragimov
from Baku
Mirjavadov sets a high bar for Khazar
Khazar are looking to break into a group stage next season ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 14 September 2009, 16.19CET

Mirjavadov sets a high bar for Khazar

Six-time Azeri title-winning coach Agasalim Mirjavadov told uefa.com he hopes his FK Khazar Lankaran side can be the first Premyer Liqasi outfit to make it to the group stage of a UEFA club competition.

Agasalim Mirjavadov has won six Azeri titles with different clubs, with the popular saying in local football going something like: "Where Mirjavadov is, there is success." However, he was dismissed by FK Khazar Lankaran last summer following a UEFA Cup first qualifying round loss to KKS Lech Poznań, but 12 months on – after two different coaches crashed and burned – the 62-year-old is back at the club, and looking for a seventh title in 2009/10.

uefa.com: What did you think of your side when you came back to the club?

Agasalim Mirjavadov: A year is a long time, especially considering that during that period two different coaches have been working with the club. The players no longer believed in themselves. We have done a lot to improve that situation and are continuing to work on it.

uefa.com: How do you rate Khazar's chances of qualifying for the UEFA Champions league or UEFA Europa League group stages?

Mirjavadov: FK Qarabağ showed that this is something we can do. We will work very hard all season and I'm pretty sure we will be competitive in Europe, and hopefully we can reach the Champions League group stage. Last time I worked here we got good results. We were as good as NK Dinamo Zagreb and then drew at home and lost away a year later in an even contest. In these two seasons, for me we had the strongest opponents we could have drawn.

uefa.com: Does Qarabağ's success in reaching the UEFA Europa League play-offs this season mean that the standard of Azeri football is improving?

Mirjavadov: We are beginning to expect our clubs to qualify for group stages; that shows how the league is improving. I have to congratulate Qarabağ; they have showed that it is possible to be successful in Europe with a squad based around local players.

uefa.com: If Azeri players can be competitive in Europe, why is the national team not successful?

Mirjavadov: We need to have our footballers playing abroad. Two other former Soviet nations – Latvia and Estonia – have done well; the Estonians played good football against Turkey while Latvia beat Israel away. Estonia have players at AZ Alkmaar, strong Norwegian clubs, FC Tom Tomsk in Russia. In the Baltic States the infrastructure is better than ours. We have to work on that. Our players are good enough to play for medium-sized clubs; people just don't know how good they are.

uefa.com: Azeri players and coaches tend to stay at home. Would you not like to work abroad?

Mirjavadov: I had a chance to go abroad last year but, frankly speaking, I don't want to leave the country. My experience will be helpful on home soil, but I want young coaches to work abroad.

Last updated: 14/09/09 22.52CET

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