Bronze medallists in 2010, Araz Naxçivan are hoping to make it to the finals again and experienced goalkeeper Andrey Tveryankin is confident that his side can challenge FC Barcelona.
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The year 2010 was a real breakthrough for Azerbaijan in futsal terms, with the national team finishing fourth at the UEFA European Futsal Championship and Araz Naxçivan taking UEFA Futsal Cup bronze three months later.
Experienced goalkeeper Andrey Tveryankin, who played in the second edition of the UEFA Futsal Cup for MFK Norilsky Nikel in 2002/03, was a crucial part of that 2010 success and, having missed out on last season's club finals to ASD Città Di Montesilvano C/5, he and Araz are back again in the elite round. However, he knows it will be tough in a Group B hosted by FC Barcelona and also featuring FK EP Chrudim and Club Futsal Eindhoven, Araz's first opponents on Thursday.
UEFA.com: Can Araz Naxçivan get to the finals?
Andrey Tveryankin: Why not? There are no invincible teams. We will not go there as tourists.
UEFA.com: What emotions did you feel when you were unable to make it to last year's finals?
Tveryankin: We had opportunities but we didn't manage to make it. We can only blame ourselves. And it was my fault too.
UEFA.com: What did it mean to you to play at the previous year's finals in Lisbon?
Tveryankin: We won bronze and that says it all. It was a big event for us.
UEFA.com: How strong are Barcelona?
Tveryankin: The tournament consists of three games and all the teams at this stage are strong. I have watched many videos and made some conclusions.
UEFA.com: Your national team colleagues Biro Jade and Serjão play for the Ukrainian club Uragan Ivano-Frankovsk. Would you like to face them in the finals?
Tveryankin: I have played against them a lot in training! We must get through to the next round and then we will see. Of course it would be interesting.
UEFA.com: What did they say in Azerbaijan about the success of the national team and Araz in 2010?
Tveryankin: I can't speak for the whole of Azerbaijan, but I felt it myself. People began to recognise me in the streets.
UEFA.com: You played in the UEFA Futsal Cup for the first time nine years ago. How has the tournament changed since then?
Tveryankin: The level of the game and the organisation have definitely improved. Playing in the UEFA Futsal Cup is a memorable event for clubs and for players. It's a big celebration. Also, you can see how the standard of the UEFA Futsal Cup has improved a lot due to futsal's development around Europe.