Azerbaijan’s Qarabağ FK football (soccer) club has written an all-new page in the country’s football history after winning over Kairat in the Almaty city of Kazakhstan on Thursday.
Qarabağ FK became the first Azerbaijani club to make it through to a play-off round of a major European football tournament organized by UEFA. With the victory in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan’s most prolific football club booked a 1/8 round ticket to the Europa Conference League, UEFA’s third-best European football competition.
The team’s striker Ibrahima Wadji and attacking midfielder Abdellah Zoubir found the back of the net against Kairat in the fourth game of Group H that took place at the Almaty Ortalyk Stadion. Jose Kante from Kairat scored the only goal for his team. The game ended in a 2-1 victory of the Azerbaijani side.
“It was really a nice game. We should have played and motivated better to grab a victory in this game. My players did their best to win. I think it is a great victory for my players,” Qarabağ FK manager Gurban Gurbanov said in a post-match interview.
Meanwhile, FC Basel of Switzerland and Omonia from Cyprus agreed to a 1-1 draw in the group’s other game held on the same day in Cyprus. The Swiss side now takes the back seat to Qarabağ FK with 8 points.
This year’s Europa Conference League is the first edition of UEFA’s all-new football competition. The annual tournament is the third tier of the European club football after the supreme Champions League and the second-best Europa League. Clubs can qualify for the competition based on their performance in national leagues and cup competitions.
The group stage qualification of Qarabağ FK comes to be the eighth successive European journey for the club since 2015. Previously, the club has made it through the group stages of the Europa League six times and has once achieved the same success in the Champions League. Qarabağ FK was the first club to represent Azerbaijan in UEFA’s elite Champions League tournament.