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Sumqayit: Second Edition

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Back in 2019 I had a great save in Azerbaijan with Sumqayit, a club located on the coast of the Caspian Sea to the east of the nation. See below for the first edition as we 2050 and ended the save as Europa League winners, maxed out facilities and half a billion in the bank. 


This save on FM22 will be no different to the first one, no special rules apart from trying to sign Azeri players from abroad like usual. I have loaded Germany and Turkey are fully playable and England as view-only as I always do. 


Since 2019, Sumqayit have had a decent few seasons culminating in a 3rd placed finish last season earning them Europa Conference League football for the 2021/22 season. However, this season they are predicted down in 7th place still, just one place above the last and only relegation spot. The Azeri league has the big guns of Neftci and Qarabag dominating the top two positions for the past 10+ seasons. 

I'm going to adopt the same formation I played at Santander, a 4-3-3 DM with twin mezzalla's and inside forwards on either wing. 

We've got a decent starting base of players to begin with; I'll highlight a few. 

Jamaldin Khodjaniyazov is a player I can remember from first time round, a Russian u21 international but also has Turkmenistan heritage. He is a left back by trade but can fill in at centre back. I need to tie him down to a new contract as soon as possible. 

Sebuhi Abdullazade will be perfect for one of the twin mezzalla roles, the young Azeri came through at Sumqayit and one I definitely want to keep for the duration of this save. 

Suleyman Ahmedov is a winger I like despite not being my favoured inside forward role. We'll look to utilise his decent crossing and physicals to get the ball into the box. 

Ali Qurbani - last but not least our main striking option for the season hopefully seasons to come. He actually came through in Iran and has spent most of his time there with the likes of Naft Tehran, Esteghlal and Sepahan with a brief spell in Slovakia with Trnava. He had a good campaign last season scoring nine league goals in 19 games. 

We have a pitiful £32k in the bank and no current sponsorship deals. We do have the Europa Conference League to look forward to which could provide an injection of cash. We have no transfer budget and are currently maxed out on wages, so we may have to look to shed of a few players if necessary to balance the books.  

I'm going to try and do monthly updates for this save, something I have started but ended quickly in the past. 

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I mentioned that we were predicted down in 7th place. Here's the odd's; 


Qarabag clear out and out favourites at 1-16 on, they finished 2nd last season so surprising to see such a gap to the winners Neftchi at 12-1. We a huge 250-1 with the promoted Sabail ahead of us. Maybe they think the Europa Conference League will hinder our league form. 

I like the match rules for the league;


No more than six foreign players means we must have five from Azerbaijan unless those foreigners are nationalised. The squad must have two domestic U21 players and one U21 Azeri player. We're fine in the fact we have just two foreign players in the squad and we have five players aged 21 or under in the first team at the moment. 


Top spot takes home just over £250k prize money whilst also qualifying for the Champions League. 2nd, 3rd and 4th net less prize money of course whilst qualifying for the Conference League with 4th place qualification subject to who wins the cup. 

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A short pre-season against lower league opposition and our own -2 team as we look to build some fitness and team cohesion before we kick off into Europa Conference League campaign against Israeli side Hapoel Be'er-Sheva in a matter of in-game days time. 


Away in the first leg for my first competitive game as manager was a little concerning and expectations were low on getting a result. They had a man sent off midway through the first half which helped us gain more possession but we lacked the composure to put away one of our 11 shots on goal. We were unlucky to concede a late goal by former Man Utd player Davide Petrucci which succumbed us to a 1-0 defeat. In the home leg we went ahead thanks to a own goal and looked set for extra time before an even later goal from Hapoel, 94th minute to be precise crushed our chances of advancing into the next round. 

We received payments of £86k and £299k for playing in the Europa Conference League plus gate receipts of £60k as we had just over 3000 fans in attendance for the home leg. However, it wasn't all good news as starting right winger Ahmedov got injured. 


The finances have improved well from playing in the ECL, we now have just over £400k in the bank. 


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Our first month in the Azerbaycan Premyer Liqasi is complete and I'm very happy with how it went. We opened the campaign against Qabala, the side expected to finish in last place. A solid 3-1 win saw us top the table after game week one. Last seasons league winners Neftci up next and we were bowled over by a far superior side. We ended the month against Sabail, who were promoted to the top flight for this season. We were comfortably the better side and we took home the three points. 


Qarabag are early front runners whilst we sit nicely in 3rd place. 


The finances continued to improve despite the single home game this month. 



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We'll take a quick look at some of the members of staff already at the club. 

Mehmen Yunusov - our assistant manager, a club stalwart, having been a player back in the 90's then a coach from 2012 to 2021 when he was promoted to AssMan. Will be replaced unfortunately. 

Hakan Sunal - pleasantly surprised with our Head of Youth Development. Decent stats in the right places. Prefers a 4-2-3-1 which gives us plenty of positions for our favoured tactic. A German national which gives us a chance of bringing some Germans through the academy. 

We have a Technical Direct, Director of Football and Loan Manager who will all be binned off at the earliest opportunity. 


Priorities would be GK Coach, Scouts and Physio. Only when money allows though. 

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We started the month with the first of two home games, against Kesla which had been earmarked as a fan day. A bumper crowd of 1834 fans saw a comfortable victory in the end after Kesla had a man sent off in the 2nd half, Qurbani rounding off the victory. We then faced our hardest home game of the season against Qarabag, injuries had begun to build up and we were without four first team players and changes were made. A quiet first half was overshadowed by five second half goals Qurbani notching his 3rd of the campaign to open the scoring, the lead was doubled minutes later before Qarabag pulled one back. Our best player Khodjaniyazov then notched a delightful freekick to extend the lead and substitute Mikayilov rounded of a shock resounding win. We finished the month away from home against Zira, out of position Rufat Abdullazade filling in for his brother at CM notched our only goal in a 1-1 draw. 


After the win against Qarabag we topped the table again but only to be leapfrogged after the draw. 


Vuqar Mustafayev has started the season well, with an average rating of 7.41 from eight games played including the ECL games. Playing the Half Back role, screening the defence, his passing completion rate is 96% whilst his tackling success rate is 90% but he has been booked four times in the seven fouls he has given away which see's him banned for the next game. 

The finances are dropping slowly but we're still in the black. 


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We play our home games at the Kapital Bank Arena which despite being a 26k capacity, only 3k can be used for league matches. We actually played our Conference League games at the Olympic Stadium in Baku which I didn't realise until now. 

The training facilities are poor whilst the youth facilities are basic. Junior coaching is at a fairly basic level, that will be increased when steady income has been secured whilst the youth recruitment is at a basic level. I want us to become more self sufficient in bringing players up through the academy and into the first team but that will take years yet. 

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A really poor month as we pick up just four points from a possible 12. Goals seem to have dried up, we scored just twice this month. 


Losing at home to teams other than Neftci and Qarabag should be a big no-no but we did that for the first time as Sabah beat us 2-1, our goal merely a consolation. We scored after just two minutes against Qabala and held on for the win. Losing to Neftci at this stage seems a formality whilst only getting a point against a promoted side was disappointing. 


The table shows an extra result in 3 points against Kesla. Still 3rd by two points but we have a healthy gap to 5th place at the moment, the win in November against Kesla opening the margin up. 


The finances are really beginning to drop now, we on course to end the season nearly £1m in the red. 

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We already mentioned the win against Kesla, Qurbani scoring twice. 


Do we have Qarabag's number already?...probably not! but its two wins from two against them. We undid all the hard work though losing at home to Zira. We lost our most in form player, the DM Mustafayev to an injury which seemed to disrupt the team. Zira scored in the last quarter of the game and we had no answer. 


No change in the table, teams are still the same amount of points from each other. That loss to Zira hurting us, we could have been level on points with Neftci going into December. 


Two home games stemmed the flow of money out the door but we'll be in the red by the end of next month. 

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In this month we entered the Azerbaycan Kuboku. 


We faced 2nd tier MOIK in the Eighth Final, which is the last 16 and we were outplayed in a 1-0 win. Just days later we faced Sabah in the league and were completely outplayed once more but were put to the sword, their win over us seeing them leapfrog us into 3rd place. We then faced our own -2 team in the Quarter Finals of the Kuboku, a two legged affair in which they were no real match for us, thankfully. 

We faced Kesla in the Semi-Final in April. 


We drop a place to 4th in the league thanks to the defeat against Sabah. We've now entered a winter break, 58 days until the next league game. 

One piece of transfer news as Iranian forward Bagherpasand leaves for his homeland, signing for Persepolis for a nominal fee. 


We've also begun to renew contracts of a few players, unfortunately we've had to increase the wage expenditure at present but will be cutting back excessively at the end of the season. New players to sign contacts are Bayramov (GK), Huseynov (CB), Khodjaniyazov (LB), Xacayev (CM) and the Abdullazade brothers. 


We're still in the black somehow. 

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Three more players out, all first team players but all with expiring contracts and either wanting too much of a wage increase or refusing to re-sign. Haqverdi was a rotational central defender but wanted a wage increase of £500 p/w, so to get £44k potentially rising to £92k is a good deal. Similarly, starting striker and top scorer Qurbani wanted a wage increase from £1.1k p/w to £1.8k p/w; not a chance. Similar fees and he joins Sepahan alongside Haqverdi. Last to leave was Sadixov to Russian side Torpedo Moscow, another £46k rising to £73k for a player with a contract expiring. Income of £130k and saving wages of around £3.2k p/w from those deals. 


Incoming were just two players. 

A straight replacement up front as former Barcelona youngster Jean-Marie Dongou joins for less wages that Qurbani was on before he left. The now 26 year old has spent time at Zaragoza before joining Finnish side FC Honka where he scored 10 goals and 26 games. The other player to join was former Sumqayit loan player Elvin Cefarquilayev rejoins the club after his release from Qarabag. Principally a left-midfielder he will be retrained to play at left-wing and has the attributes to operate there. 

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Back to the league with three more games this month. 


An inevitable loss to Neftci before back to back wins for the first time since November. I wasn't expecting such a scoreline against Sabail but two late goals from new striker Dongou sealed an emphatic win. A straightforward 2-0 home win over Kesla ended the month with Sebuhi Abdullazade finally breaking his goalscoring duck from midfield. 


Back up to 3rd place as Sabah fail to win their last two games. 


We're well into the red now. Projections are now £520k in the red at the end of this season. 

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Another month with just three games. 


Our first loss against Qarabag. An important win against Zira followed to keep us in 3rd place and a point against Sabah keeps things as they were. 


Six points behind Neftci, meaning 2nd is probably unattainable now. Sabah keeping pace with us, a win over them this month would have been good. 


Deeper into the red as every month passes. We need to qualify for the Conference League next season without fail. 

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A busy month with five league games and the Kuboku semi-final. 


A decent month in the league winning both the home games whilst picking up a good point away from home at Neftci. Qarabag even things up in the head-to-head with us. 


We remain in 3rd place evenly five points behind Neftci who have a game in hand and five ahead of Kesla. Sabah have had a dip in form to slip down to 5th. 


The Kuboku semi-final was done and dusted in the first leg despite a couple of injuries prior to the game starting. Dongou missing meant we called up Nurlan Quliyev from the -2 squad and he scored on his debut. We freshened things up in the 2nd leg with a rotated squad. We're into our first Azerbaycan Kuboku final where we will face Qarabag at the Olympic Stadium in Baku. 


Nearing £300k in the red, new projections are to be just £358k in the hole. 

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MAY '22


We began the month with another loss to Zira, is it too early to call them our bogey team? At the time of playing Sabah were five points behind us, anything but a loss would guarantee us 3rd place and we grounded out a drab 0-0 to secure 3rd and Conference League Football for the next season. We ended the domestic league season with a hard fought 2-1 win over Qabala who were already relegated. 


We signed off the season as a whole with our first Kuboku Final where we faced this seasons resurgent league winners Qarabag. We fell behind around the mid-mark of the first half but managed to secure an equaliser just after half time. Qarabag kept knocking on the door and with virtually the last kick of the game they scored in the 93rd minute to snatch victory and complete the domestic double. 

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We've pleased the board by passing all three required competition targets for the season. 

Conference League


Despite only competing in one round of the continental competition the board only wanted us to be competitive. A narrow 2-1 aggregate loss to Israeli side Hapoel Be'er Sheva was competitve as they went on to compete in a further two rounds before losing to Aris. 

Premyer Liqasi

The board wanted a mid-table finish which I guess is between 3rd and 6th in a eight team league. We must also remember the media predicted us to finish in 7th. 


3rd is a great result with minimal investment in the side at present, we have qualified for the Europa Conference League again, hopefully we can go at least one further this season and win a game or two. Qarabag were eventual run-away winners of the league but we did cause them a couple of upsets, we hold a 2-0-2 league record against them so far. We finished eight points behind Neftci, so there is some gap to close with them before we can possibly achieve a 2nd place finish in this league. 

Our main positional rivals were Kesla and Sabah; the former finishing just four points behind us despite us being unbeaten against them in the league with three wins and one draw. The latter, Sabah however hold a better record over us, we failed to record a single win over them through the course of the season, picking up just two points in our four games. 

Azerbaycan Kuboku

A real solid effort in the Kuboku this season culminating in a final against Qarabag where we were moments away from getting to extra time and possibly penalties where anything could happen. We beat second division sides MOIK and our very own second team before hammering Kesla in the semi-finals. 



Its good to see that just one signing under the age of 23 is enough to trigger the board into a delighted state. 


Just two signings this season as a tight wage budget meant we needed to sell to free up space in the budget. 


Outgoing were four players who were either not playing or were unwilling to renew their expiring contract so I took the chance at some money rather than losing them for nothing at the end of the season. 


Purely looking at the numbers, we really lacked goals this season but this squad still feels like one we have inherited rather than moulded into one of our own. Three players finished as joint top scorers with six goals apiece; left back Khodjaniyazov (who takes freekicks and penalties), Ahmadov from right wing and Dongou who signed in January. 

Ahmadov also made seven assists making him the best player at the club this statistically this season but unfortunately at the moment in time he is unwilling to sign a new deal with us unless I break my wage structure to do so. 

We need to find a solution to the goal problem as having a player in 14th on the top goal scorer list will not see us compete for 2nd spot and may even see us finish in a lower position next season. 



Working within a wage budget is a given, we reduced wage expenditure by around £3k per week with the above transfer dealings. I feel we're not far enough into the save and also lack the capital to sign players to sell for a profit. But its not to say that we wouldn't sell one of the players we have signed this season if the right deal came along. 


The finances are much better than where they were a week ago. The board provided us with a cash injection of £160k and we also received £171k for finishing in 3rd place whilst the -2 team finished in 7th in the 2nd tier giving us an extra £30k. We also then received another £30k for losing in the final of the Kuboku.  


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2/3's of the 5 year plan remains the same for the new season but we have a new element; Build a new stadium. We play at the 26k capacity Kapital Bank Arena but we can only allow a maximum of 3k spectators in for league games, whilst we play at the Olympic Stadium in Baku for European games. 


The board only want us to Avoid a Relegation Battle which in my eyes is a given. The Conference League element is to reach the 2nd Qualifying Round minimum which is the round we enter the competition in. 


The cohesion and atmosphere was in the pits when I arrived but we've managed to turn it around on the whole. As expected the managerial support was also very poor for me when I arrived whereas now its at a good level. 


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Other Azerbaijan Teams in Europe Last Season

Neftci - Lost in Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round to Slovan Bratislava

Qarabag - Lost in Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round to Aris Salonika

Kesla - Lost in Conference League 2nd Qualifying Round to Gent

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We've been fairly ruthless in June, refusing to renew anyone's contract that won't play a part in the first team nor renewing the contracts of two or three players who were ultimately holding the club to ransom. 

Released 1 | Released 2

21 players left the club hugely reducing the wage expenditure. 

Two players have joined the club, both on free transfers. 


Beka Vachiberadze is a direct replacement for Mustafayev at Half Back although he is more suited to a role further forward in the team. We then signed Sergey Slepov from Dinamo Moscow to slot in at right-back. He spent last season on loan at Rotor and signs for just £120 p/w.

Looking at the squad, we have 2 x GK; 2 x RB; 2 x LB; 2 x CB; 2 x DM; 3 x CM; 2 x RW; 2 x LW and 1 x ST. 

I need to add another CB, CM and ST minimum. 


I have a small transfer budget and just over £9k p/w left in the wage budget. 

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After defeat in the 2nd Qualifying Round last season I wanted to better that if possible but that task was made harder as we were drawn against Croatian side Hadjuk Split. Just looking at their squad including Danijel Subasic in goal, former Liverpool and Fulham player Alexander Kacaniklic and the well travelled Marko Livaja up front I knew it would be a tough ask. 


Whilst we lost both legs this time round I felt we did a decent enough job despite the board thinking otherwise; 


Maybe if we had score in the return leg their minds would be in a different place, a draw would have been too far for us against this opposition. 

We receive two payments for our troubles along with a further income from the gate receipts. 



We now sit in the black for a month or two; 




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We've completed our transfers dealings for this summer and have added some real quality to the team without very minimal outlay. 


We've already mentioned the first two as they were signed on pre-contract deals. 

Ilja Martynov's agent alerted me to his clients availability and it was a no-brainer to bring someone of his quality into the fold. Released by Krasnodar, he spent last season on loan at Rotor where he made 38 appearances making six goal contributions and had an average rating of 7.2. A well rounded defender who can play a bit and will slot straight into the ball-playing role in central defence. He signs a £2k per week contract making him the teams top earner. 

The next player to join was Bogdan Biloshevskyi, he was brought to my attention by my new scout Vicente. He will take the DM role instead of Vachiberadze, who will instead move in a more familiar role of CM. Signing a 2-year deal for just £325 p/w is a great deal for us. 

Last to join was Ibrahim Mustapha from Red Star for just £2.5k. Initially, we were alerted to another player at Red Star but I saw that Ibrahim was available for cut price due to his contract expiring. Again, he joins on a minimal contractual outlay at just £250 p/w. Ibrahim isn't an outstanding finisher but is well rounded and can work well in rotation with his African compatriot Dongou. 

These five signings represent the level of expenditure we can afford at the moment but also the calibre of player we can attract to the club which was lacking at the start of the save. It's also five foreign players which takes us up to seven of the nine permitted, which is probably more than I would ideally like but with home-grown players being a valued at a premium compared to players from abroad its something I will have to evaluate on a seasonal basis. 


The signings also appease the board as three of the five summer signings were under the age of 23. 

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A really solid month to start the new season off and an unbeaten one to boot. We opened the season against Sabah, a team we failed to beat last season in the four league games. New signing, Slepov had a great domestic debut, scoring one and assisting the other. We followed that result up with another three points, beating Sabail in our first home league game, we switched in Mustapha for his debut for Dongou up front and he sealed the win in the 11th minute. 

We then had back-to-back draws over lasts seasons top two. Dongou scored his first league goal of the season against Qarabag whilst we were outplayed by Neftci but again we earnt another point. 


We end the month in 2nd place, unbeaten but Qarabag have a game in hand. 


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A month of green, last season I think we would have slipped up at least once and dropped points. This month has seen us score early goals in all three fixtures, we were 2-0 up against Kesla inside nine minutes whilst we scored two goals in two minutes to win the game against Zira. We also scored early against Turan from the spot but won the game in the first half again. 


A quarter of the season played and we find ourselves top of the pile, still unbeaten but with Qarabag hot on our tails with a game in hand. Neftci have had a blip, suffering back-to-back defeats to Sabah then Qarabag. Qarabag themselves are in Europe still, they managed to reach the Conference League group stage after initially entering the Champions League they dropped down to the Europa League but Basel were too much them so further dropped into the Conference League. 

With the leagues top scorer sitting on just four goals and Dongou in 2nd with three, its showing that neither Qarabag nor Neftci are playing to their usual standard. At the other end of the pitch, we're defensively solid, five clean sheets from seven games and that is reflected in our back fives average ratings. Martynov topping the pile with 7.53 so far this season. 

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Its already been re-arranged twice due to Qarabag's European exploits but finally the match got played...


We dominated them for an draw in extra time and penalty win. They only played a few days before so were probably undercooked so they did well despite what the stats say. 


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Another unbeaten month as we begin the second set of seven league fixtures. Two wins and three draws considering the opposition is fairly decent, although we were 2-0 up against Neftci before imploding slightly to only draw the match. 


We're 2nd in the league just one point behind Qarabag but eight clear of the chasing pack which is headed up by Sabah. Neftci are having an awful season so far but I expect them to become stronger towards the end of the season. We're the only unbeaten team remaining in the league after Qarabag lost their unbeaten status to Sabah. 

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A much quieter month with just three games as there was a long international break in the month. 

We opened the month with a comfortable 2-0 win over Zira, a club a struggled a little against last season. We then slipped up drawing 1-1 with promoted side Turan, a disappointing result which allowed Qarabag to maintain their slender lead over us. 


Sabah continue the chase and close the gap to six points whilst Kesla are eight points behind and Neftci drop down to 5th a huge 11 points behind us. Taking a closer look they've not had a manager change nor lost any major players to injury, their woes must just be down to poor form. 

We ended the month with a comfortable win in the Kuboku against Qarabag-2, as expected we completely outplayed them, finishing the game with five times as many shots as them. 

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Just two games this month against second tier side Zaqatala in the Kuboku. The away tie looked a lot closer than it was but the opposition score both shots on target they had, we on the other hand managed nine on target to score three goals. A solitary goal was needed to win the home leg as Zaqatala failed to have a single shot on goal in the whole game which is testament to a solid defence, who in that game averaged a 7.7 rating. 


Our reward is two more games with Qarabag in April.

We have reached the winter break in Azerbaijan now, I'll send the players on their holidays and organise three or four friendlies on their return. 

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Just one new player to arrive...


Former Ukrainian international Denys Garmash joins on a 1.5-year deal on £1.7k p/w. 

I decided to sign him due to Dongou and Mustapha have both struggled for goals with six and seven apiece respectively. He was released by Dynamo Kiev at the end of the last season but didn't find a new club, he scored 10 goals in 20 games last season which is a great return. If I can get 10 goals out of him in the remainder of the season this will be a great coup for the club. 

Dongou's contract is up this season anyway so he will be moving on whether we signed Garmash or not. 

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Just three games this month as we continued where we left off, unbeaten; we extended the run to 17 games at home to Sabail before eventually succumbing to the might of Qarabag in a short trip to the capital. We got things back on track with a solid 1-0 win over the ever regressive Neftci. We racked up 16 shots to their one, we could and should have scored more than once but the result was never really in doubt. 


Despite the loss to Qarabag we still only find ourselves one point behind them, they lost the opening game of the month to Sabah, who now seem to be their nemesis this season. Sabah themselves are eight points behind us and Kesla a further two. Neftci are now four points outside the European places having lost seven games this season so far. They have finally sacked Samir Abbasov who was a former player and manager of Sumqayit. 

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The first of the save as managerless Neftci hire my 2nd Team Manager Marius Muller, the 29 year old German takes the reigns at the top flight side after just eight months in a management position. 

It will be interesting to see if he can turn the clubs fortunes around. 


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As expected another really poor intake, until we are making regular money from either (i) transfers or (ii) prize money from continental competition, I don't envisage this changing too much soon. 

Full Intake | Map

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A decent month, unbeaten and seven points from a possible nine, although it was disappointing to only draw with Turan. Denys Garmash finally scored too, a hat-trick against Zira. 


We're still a solitary point behind, it could have been more but Qarabag drew with Neftci on the same day we drew with Turan. New manager bounce for Neftci, picking up seven points in three games since Muller took over. 

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The months results look a lot worse than the reality of it, the block of red against Qarabag was probably expected. Take the two cup losses away from the month and its doesn't look too bad. 10 points from a possible 15 in the league. Goals are hard to come by especially in the latter stages of the month, probably due to the poor results against Qarabag which hurt the squads morale. 


The point against Neftci guaranteed us at least 2nd place and earning us our highest ever finish, Qarabag are relentless at the moment; three wins on the bounce to end the month scoring 10 goals. 

Qarabag have two away games in their three remaining with a game against Neftci but I don't see them slipping up now. For some reason all three of my remaining games are away; Zira, Turan and Sabah. 

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MAY '23


We opened May up with a good win over Zira. No change at the top of the table though as Qarabag beat the already relegated Sabail. 

I mentioned Qarabag would face Neftci, away from home; and that it could be a potential banana skin for the league leaders. 


It was, agent Muller recording a victory over the league leaders. A win for us would see us overtake Qarabag. 


Bottled it. 2-1 up going into added on time only for Turan to equalise. 


All square at the top. If, if, we managed to end the season equal on points, its results based not goal difference to decide the winner. That means we would see Qarabag crowned winners as they have won two of the four games this season with the other two being draws. 

We need to win against Sabah, who have nothing to play for having already secured 3rd, whilst we need 6th placed Zira to get a result against Qarabag. A tough ask. 


We blew it, awful game with an equally awful result. Qarabag won against Zira anyway. 


2nd place is still a great result and to take the league title down to the last game of the season even more pleasing. We've come on leaps and bounds this season with limited investment. 

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Disappointing to see the board think we failed in Europe. We eclisped the mid-table board requirement and bettered the quarter finals in the cup. 

Conference League


Tough opposition to face in the 2nd Qualifying Round. No qualms losing to them. 

Premyer Liqasi

Expectations were a mid-table finish and we bettered that by finishing in 2nd. 


Finishing in 2nd place sees us return our best over Liqasi finish, bettering last seasons 3rd place. We lost the least amount of games through the season but two of those defeats were at the hands of Qarabag who took the title on the last day of the season. We finished 11 points clear of Sabah in 3rd place whilst Kesla were a further eight points behind them. Neftci had a poor season, finishing 5th and out of the European qualification places. 

Azerbaycan Kuboku


We eased through to the semi-finals where we met Qarabag. We were humbled by them, losing 5-2 on aggregate. 



We kept the board happy by making a couple of U23 signings for the first team which included Martynov and Mustapha. 


We had little money to invest in new signings but we did so well, with just Mustapha costing us a fee which we recouped in selling Nagiev to Moldovan side Sfintul Gheorghe on Christmas Day. All the signings improved the quality of the first team and made a contribution to the season. 


Both of our wingers were our stand out contributors for the season; Elvin Cafarquliyev scoring 11 goals and making five assists whilst on the other flank, Suleyman Ahmadov scored six goals and made 11 assists. Mustapha was the top scoring striker with eight goals whilst Dongou scored six. I'm not sure whether the Denys Garmash signing was a complete success, the Ukrainian striker netting six goals in 16 appearances. 

The season was built more towards a strong defence, conceding less goals meant we didn't need to score as many to win games. Ilja Martynov epitomised that with a solid season in the heart of defence, achieving an average rating of 7.37 making 183 clearances and winning 295 headers. We conceded the least amount of goals in the league with 20 and goalkeeper Aydin Bayramov kept 14 clean sheets in 28 league games. 


I haven't been looking for fear of it getting out of control but its not as bad as first feared. 


We received just over £200k for finishing in 2nd place in the league whilst we also received a further £385k in prize money for competing in the Conference League. 


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Other Azerbaijan Teams in Europe Last Season

Qarabag - Lost in UCL 2nd Qualifying Round v Olympiacos > Lost in EL Play-Off to Basel > Lost in CL First KO Round to Besiktas

Neftci - Lost in CL 2nd Qualifying Round to Beroe

Kesla - Lost in CL 2nd Qualifying Round to Valur

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Ilja Martynov departs for Turkish Super Lig side Gireseunspor for a £300k with 30% profit from the next sale. 

Obviously disappointed to see a player of his calibre leave the club after such a good season but it gives the finances a real boost in the short term. Hopefully I can find a replacement player of a similar ability. 


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14 staff members have not had their contract renewed in a bid to improve all the areas of the back room team. We don't need a Director of Football, a Loan Manager or a Technical Director at all, so its good to get those off the books. The exits currently see us looking like this in comparison to the rest of the league; 


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We entered the competition in the 2nd qualifying round where we would face Armenian side Ararat-Armenia. 


The tie was seemingly over after the first leg as Denys Garmash netted a hat-trick to seal a 3-0 win. In the return home leg, we made a few changes and drew 1-1, advancing 4-1 on aggregate. 

We would then face Polish side Gornik in the 3rd Qualifying Round. 


Whilst we failed to advance, we were competitive, scoring in both legs against a solid side, we had nothing to be ashamed about. 

We were given £85k per round we played in and were also awarded; 


Which means our finances look a look healthier 6e465feba976ae918872bfe53dd8cf1b.png

We're still projected to end the season in the red however. 

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Our transfers dealings for the summer are complete. 


Three in and two more out. 

Vurgun Huseynov spent half of last season out on loan at Qabala, at 34, I didn't want him so I offered him out for £0 in a bid to get his £1.1k weekly wage off the books, they offered a transfer straight away and he was gone. Beka Vachiberadze was only a summer signing last season but the Georgian midfielder didn't have the greatest of seasons, I had already made a move to replace him so I offered him out for a low fee to ensure we didn't get lumbered with paying some of his wages. Metalist offered the £12.5k and off he goes to Ukraine. 

Nino Pungarsek was the midfielder I was looking to sign but needed to shift Beka on, a better all-round player, he joins for free after leaving Slovenian side Krsko. With having let Martynov go at the end of last season, we were short in central defence. I had a deal lined up for a German player but he chose 1860 Munich over us which was expected, I then had a deal in place for another player who I had had on trial, he then chose to sign for Qabala on £2k p/w. Third time lucky right?...wrong...I was then turned down for a third time by another player who chose Zira over us. 

I finally sealed a deal for Alexander Groiss on a free transfer, although more suited to DM he will play as the left sided ball playing defender in the starting XI. I then realised I no longer had an under 21 player in the side which rules stipulate I must. Ayxan Suleymanli joined from Zira for £16k to slot in beside Groiss at CB, or take his place in defence and we push Alexander further forward to DM. Ayxan gives us at least two years at U21 before I need to worry about finding another to enter the first team. 

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Forgot to do the end of month review for August. 


We're five games into the league season and five games unbeaten. We opened the season with a solid win over Zira away from home then backed that up with beating Kesla at home. We were top of the table after those two games. 

We moved in September with a tricky away game against Sabah, a 1-1 draw was all we could muster. Then a solid 2-0 win over Neftci at home saw us take top spot back from Qarabag. We ended the month with another home game against Qarabag and managed a 1-1 draw which see's us end the month top of the table. 


I think the Denys Garmash experiment could be coming to an end and likely will be replaced in the winter window. I'm going to change his role from an advanced forward to a more comfortable pressing forward role which is his favoured role. 

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A great month, four wins from four, plenty of goals scored and none conceded. Garmash finally scored in the league but he only scored one of 11 goals scored is quite poor. He's been outshone by new centre back Ayxan Suleymanli who has scored three goals this month.


It was a great month for the league table also, Qarabag lost then bottom side Qabala so open up a seven point gap after nine games played. 

Transfer News


We've struck a deal to sign former Ludugorets striker Junior Brandao on a free transfer, the deal is costing us just shy of £1k p/w in wages. He will definitely replace Garmash in the starting line up when he arrives. 

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