Here a small preview of the teams starting with:
Berti Vogts (GER)
Most Capped player:
Rashad Sadygov (84)
Gurban Gurbanov (14)
Current FIFA ranking:
Euro 2012 Qualifiers – 5th place (out of six teams) 2W 1D 7L - Goals (10-26)
Israel´s Head to Head Statistics against Azerbaijan:
3-0-0 (100%) – Goals (10-0)
As seen is in the previous data, Israel has never conceded a goal against Azerbaijan, winning all of its games. The last game was in 2004 in a friendly match where Israel had no problems defeating the visitors 6-0 in the debut of the Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Torres.
The truth is that from that period onwards, Azerbaijan has developed and despite not achieving great positions in the standings it has closed the gap to the medium table sides and even managing surprising victories as the one in the last qualifiers against Turkey.
Great credit for this upgrade is to experienced German coach Berti Vogts, who is the only one who managed to stay more than one campaign ahead of the NT (this will be his third campaign) and the results are been seen already.
We had a small preview of a possible Israel – Azerbaijan clash when Ironi Kiriat Shmona beat Neftçi Baku in the Champions League Qualifier and despite the ease of the second leg, certainly the game in Baku won´t be like that (in the recent friendly against Bahrain in which Azerbaijan won 3-0, no Neftçi player was called). Usually their home games are tough for the visitors, but if Israel manages to hold an expected initial pressure from the start then the tide will turn and the better technical quality of our side should prevail.
Their main goal in this qualifier is to reach a position higher than the previous one, this means a fourth place. And this means take points from higher ranked opponents like Israel, so we should take all the caution, but at the same time understand that we have all the conditions to go there and do the job. Plus, if we dream of at least clinching a second place, we must beat Azerbaijan in both games have goal difference (remember we out of the 2006 World Cup playoffs because of goal difference).
One the players to watch is captain Rashad Sadygov who is the most capped player in the National Teams history. His team Qarabag was the one that had most players selected for the NT. Another player to beware is forward Branimir Subasic. He plays for Khazar Lankaran and has a good average scoring for the NT, including slotting one more in the friendly against Bahrain.
Azerbaijan has also some young players coming up and that could be used later in the qualifiers such as Cihan Ozkara from Sivasspor, Rizvan Umarov from Elche and Ali Gokdemir from Hannover II.