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Match Preview | Qarabağ FK v Aberdeen

August 18, 2021 6:38 pm Author: Aberdeen FC
Match Preview | Qarabağ FK v Aberdeen

 

Competition: Europa Conference League: Play Offs
Match: Qarabağ FK v Aberdeen
Venue: Tofik Bakhramov Stadium
Kick Off: 17:00 (BST)
TV Coverage: GB & Ireland > Pay-per-View | Rest of World (excl. Azerbaijan) > afc.co.uk/redtv | For full details please click here. 

The manager spoke to the media from the team hotel in Baku on Wednesday afternoon to preview our Europa Conference League Play Off tie with Qarabağ FK.

To watch the manager’s pre match press conference on RedTV, please click here. 

“We came out a day early to give us time to recover and prepare, and we’re happy with how it’s gone. We had a good journey across. There was a brief pit-stop for fuel on the way and even though we didn’t get off the plane, it broke the journey in a strange kind of way, so it didn’t feel so long.

“When we arrived in the evening, it was a little bit breezy, which is around the time the game will be ending on Thursday. It’s very hot here during the day, but we’re not playing until the evening, so hopefully that won’t be a factor.

“The important part is how does the heat feel come the game, not during the day, and we’ll get a better handle on that at training tonight. But it’s not going to be crazy hot at match time and it’s important that the players have got that in their heads already. They need to have that clear in their mind and not be worrying about that.

“We’ve chose to stay on UK time. We took guidance on that from our Sports Scientist Team, because they’ve been through this before when Aberdeen played in Kazakhstan a few years ago. It means there’s no confusion about what time we’re on, you keep your eating patterns the same, sleeping patterns are the same. They tell me the benefits will be greater come Sunday when we come to the Hearts game because we won’t have switched once and then switched back, so it’s a double benefit really.”

Qarabag

“It’s the biggest game of the season so far, the biggest game in Europe for this club since 2007/08. It isn’t lost on the group just how important it is. We’re ready. We had a great pre-season, we’ve had a reasonable start to the season, the massive disappointment from Sunday is still there and it still bites, but we can only focus on what comes next. That’s this game on Thursday night and we’re ready for it.

“If you reach the play-offs, you know that it’s going to be tough. Their group has at least ten Azerbaijan internationals in it, so they’re clearly a good team. But our focus continues to be on our team. We know we have a good group, we have experience, we have internationals of our own, so we are focused on what we are wanting to do in the game. We know it’s going to be tough, but it’s a tie that we believe we can come through.

“What Europe offers the club in terms of revenue, the feelgood factor, it makes it very important to us. We knew it was a month long process to get this far and then on to the group stages if we could navigate that. We’re here at the final hurdle and we’ll see by next Thursday whether we’ve overcome that too. But in terms of priorities, winning that next game in front of us is the biggest focus we have, just as it always is.”

Injury Update

“Jonny has travelled with us and we hope he can take some part in the game. He got caught on the top of the foot at the end of the game on Sunday, and we’re hopeful he can overcome that. He might not train tonight, he’s still getting treatment, so it’s a case of if he makes it, that’s great and if not, there are other players that are than capable of coming in and doing a job for us.

“Obviously Ryan didn’t travel because there was no way he could play on Thursday. He’s being scanned today and we’ll pick up on what the prognosis is for him once we get back.”

Dealing with Setbacks

“Real professionals don’t dwell on the last game, they move onto the next one, whether you’ve played well, whether you’ve lost a game, whatever. You can’t affect a game once the final whistle has gone, so you have to move onto the next one and start all over again. We need to keep believing in the things that we’re doing. If we’d done a little bit more on Sunday in the final third in the first half, we could have had the game won. I have no reason to doubt the group and they have no reason to doubt themselves.”

Thursday Night

“I think the fact they’ve played just one domestic game is irrelevant. We hadn’t played any before the Häcken game, where they were well into their season, so I don’t think it has much bearing. They might be a bit fresher because they’ve not played so much, we might have more match sharpness as we come into our eighth game of the season. I don’t want to focus on any of that. The 90 minutes here is the important factor, not how many games people have played.”

“We’ve watched the footage from their game here last Thursday and the pitch doesn’t look great by any means. We’ll show the players some footage of that before we go to the stadium today, just so that they are aware of it, then they get the chance to play on it. There’ll be no excuses about anything come Thursday night. It is what it is, both teams are playing on the same park.”

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Match Report | FK Qarabag 1-0 Aberdeen

August 19, 2021 7:10 pm Author: Aberdeen FC
Match Report | FK Qarabag 1-0 Aberdeen

 

UEFA Conference League Play-off Round, First Leg

Tofiq Bahramov Republican Stadium

Thursday August 18th 2021

Ref: Rade Obrenovič

On a pitch more suited to the Sunday morning parks game than elite European competition, a doggedly determined display from the Dons saw them leave Azerbaijan just a goal behind – and with an absolute cracker of a tie in prospect next Thursday at Pittodrie.

Stephen Glass made six changes to the team beaten by Raith Rovers last Sunday as the Dons headed into the Conference League play-off game. Scott Brown, Andrew Considine, Calvin Ramsay, Lewis Ferguson, Jack MacKenzie and Christian Ramirez all returned to the starting line-up in place of Jack Gurr, Jonny Hayes, Dylan McGeouch, Connor McLennan, Teddy Jenks and Niall McGinn, all of whom were on the bench.

Qarabag came through to the play-off by beating AEL Limassol 2-1 on aggregate, completing the job with a 1-0 home win last Thursday. They made just one change to that team, Kady, who scored the goal after coming on as a substitute, replacing Ozobić in the team – he drops to the bench.

The pre-match worries about the pitch were soon shown to have real foundation, the turf cutting up quickly, the ball bobbling away on the surface, an evening for safety first, certainly at the back.

Joe Lewis was called into his first sharp action on seven minutes, pushing away a shot from Bayramov after he had slalomed his way past a couple of challenges before firing off a shot from the edge of the area.

There was real concern for Aberdeen on 10 minutes as Considine slumped to the turf clutching his left knee after getting barged by one of the home players, the Slovenian referee oblivious to it all. He received lengthy treatment before being carried from the scene on a stretcher, a dreadful start to the evening. Hayes was the man to come on in his place, MacKenzie going into the back three.

A throw from the left from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas caused problems on 16 minutes, Hayes helping it onto Ramirez at the back post but his header looped over.

The surface was making any kind of passing football difficult and it was a game without any real rhythm, Garayev expressed his frustration by smashing one well wide from 30 yards after 25 minutes, whereupon the sides took a break to get a drink.

Qarabag were a bit livelier after the drinks interval, Ross McCrorie having to be alert to make a key interception on 27 minutes as the hosts began to pass the ball a little better.

On the half hour though, Qarabag were in front, Romero getting the ball just inside the box on the right side. With Huseynov making a decoy run outside him to make it 2v1 on Hayes, it gave Romero the chance to come inside to open up the angle. He took his shot early and drilled a left foot shot just inside the post, a fierce finish.

Qarabag were suddenly looking a good side now, beginning to push the Dons further back and looking much more secure in their passing. Declan Gallagher had to get an important block on Zoubir’s shot on 39 minutes, taking it full in the face and diverting it behind.

McCrorie was the first to be booked on 42 minutes, coming across Kady as he ran towards the Aberdeen box. The free-kick, very central, from 30 yards out, saw Romero put his shot into the heart of the wall.

Aberdeen put their first real spell of possession together on 44 minutes, the ball enduing with Hayes on the left, his cross cleared by the Qarabag defence.

HALF-TIME: QARABAG FK 1 ABERDEEN 0

Aberdeen introduced McLennan at the start of the second half, Emmanuel-Thomas making way.

Brown was in the book on 55 minutes for clipping Kady on halfway in the first really meaningful action of the second period, the Dons looking more competitive after the break and able to get the ball further forward than in the first half. The game was particularly scrappy, fouls coming from both sides, the referee apparently only having cards for one team. Garayev repeated Brown’s challenge on Ferguson on the hour, but no card again.

McLennan’s energy was giving Aberdeen more of a threat, but Qarabag looked content to sit back and then try to use their pace on the break, as they did on 63 minutes to force a corner. Aberdeen looked to break from that until Ferguson was poleaxed by Andrade who forced the referee into finally administering a caution to the hosts. Ferguson required plenty of treatment before he was able to continue, Stephen Glass yellow carded in the aftermath as he remonstrated with the officials.

Another drinks break was called on 69 minutes, Aberdeen encouraged by the opening period of this second half, but aware that it was soon after the first half interval that Qarabag lifted their game and grabbed the lead. On the restart, Ferguson was clobbered again by Kady, no action taken. Kady was in more legitimate action on 74 minutes, firing off a 30 yard shot that sailed over the bar.

Ozobić replaced Kady for the hosts on 78 minutes in their first change, as they looked to extend their lead ahead of the Pittodrie return. Aberdeen were looking more threatening now though and good play down the left got Hayes into a crossing position. His ball into the box caught Hüseynov on the top of the head on its way behind and he collapsed to the turf for a worrying moment before gradually getting to his feet. Ramsay’s corner looked dangerous when it reached Gallagher at the back post but Qarabag ultimately manged to scramble clear.

The Dons were looking more authoritative now, Ramirez taking a first time shot on the run on 85 minutes, the goalkeeper down for a comfortable save, the striker perhaps having time to take a touch first.

Qarabag made a double change to try to change the flow of the game, Vešović and Ibrahimli on for Romero and Garayev with three minutes left. McLennan continued to be the most threatening sub though, a drilled cross into the box causing problems for Qarabag who were happy to hack clear.

Hearts in mouth into added time, Ojo losing the ball in Aberdeen’s half, Vešović getting into the area before firing off a shot, Lewis staying tall and refusing to commit himself, making another good save.

Four minutes into added time, a last chance for the Dons, Medvedev crashing into Ramirez nearly 30 yards out and going into the book as a result. It took an age before the wall was set, Ozobić getting booked as things got feisty. Ferguson finally stepped up, put the ball over the wall, Magomedailyev catching it easily.

QARABAG: Magomedailyev, A. Hüseynov, Medvedev, Medina, Bayramov, Garayev (Ibrahimli 87), Andrade, Romero (Vešović 87), Kady (Ozobić 78), Zoubir, Sheydaev.

Subs not used: Balayev, Arazli, Almeida, Mustafazade, Zamora, Gurbanli.

GOALS: Romero (30)

BOOKED: Andrade, Medvedev, Ozobić, Medina

ABERDEEN: Lewis, McCrorie, Gallagher, Considine (Hayes 14), Ramsay, Brown, Ojo, Ferguson, MacKenzie, Emmanuel-Thomas (McLennan 46), Ramirez.

Subs not used: Woods, Ritchie, McGinn, McGeouch, Jenks, Gurr, Campbell, Ngwenya, Hancock.

BOOKED: McCrorie, Brown

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