Author: Sanan SHAFIZADE
Finally, we know who will be the head coach of the Azerbaijani national football team. Left without a leader for seven months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team will now be led by an Italian specialist Gianni De Biasi.
During a videoconference of the AFFA Executive Committee, eight members of the committee voted for Gianni De Biazi as a head coach. Five other members who supported the appointment of Arif Asadov remained in minority. It was decided to conclude an agreement with Gianni De Biaza on his appointment to the post of head coach of the Azerbaijani national football team, if he agrees with special conditions.
Giovanni "Gianni" De Biasi was born in 1956 in Italy. He has both Italian and Albanian citizenship. His professional career began at FC Inter, where he played as a midfielder. After a satisfactory career as a footballer, which ended in 1990, De Biasi decided to test himself as a coach. His most noticeable achievement as a coach was in the Albanian national team, which he coached in 2011-2017. Under his leadership, the Albanian team was qualified for the European Championship finals for the first time in its history. De Biasi's last job was in the Spanish club Alaves. After only two months in the club, the Italian specialist has been unemployed since November 2017.
Gianni De Biasi's success in the Albanian national team made him famous throughout the continent. At the same time, it would be wrong to expect success in the shortest possible time in the Azerbaijani national team. One of the reasons is that the situation in the national team is not encouraging. Left without training during the pandemic, the players regressed even more. Secondly, De Biasi must also study the local mentality, familiarise himself with the state of the players. Thirdly, and most importantly, the new head coach does not have such a wide range of high-quality national championship players to invite to the national team.
Invitation to Azerbaijan as a challenge
We were unable to get answers from AFFA officials to questions related to the new appointment. Therefore, we decided to contact Mr. De Biasi directly and ask him a few questions over the phone. Below is our interview with the newly appointed head coach of the national team.
"Can we introduce you as the head coach of the Azerbaijani national team already?"
"AFFA has already contacted me. We discussed the details. It remains only to formalise the agreement. If nothing supernatural happens, the contract will be signed in the coming days."
"The press reported that you are in Baku. Is it true?"
"No, I'm home, in the province of Veneto, near Venice. At the moment, the borders are closed due to the pandemic. How can I visit Azerbaijan in this situation? We periodically contact by phone. I will probably arrive in Baku soon."
"Is your visit to Azerbaijan possible with closed borders?"
"It seems that flights from Baku to several European cities have been resumed. The issue is being worked on. AFFA will help with my visit to Baku."
"When did you receive an invitation to work for the national team of Azerbaijan?"
"About 4-5 months ago. I have become interested in the games of the national team since then. I collected information about some of your players. I mean I have some information. I have been to Baku and I must say that you have a beautiful city."
"When were you in Baku?"
"Six years ago. I came to watch the game of Albanian footballers Ansi Agolli and Admir Teli playing for Garabagh. I also visited Icherisheher (Old City). I liked Baku, though it was a short trip. Perhaps in the coming months I will have an opportunity to get to know the city better."
"Do you have information about the term of the contract?"
"It is difficult to say something specific. I think the agreement will be concluded by the end of 2021. It will reflect such moments as changes in the situation due to the pandemic or the postponement of matches. I mean now the world can change at any moment. You have to be ready for anything."
"How profitable is AFFA's financial offer for you?"
"I understand what you mean. You know, I don't think about money now. Perhaps, Azerbaijan is a profitable country in this context. I do not know. But I didn't accept the invitation because of the money. Your national team is in some ways similar to the national team of Albania. With the Albanian national team, we got qualified for Euro 2016. I think I can repeat this success. Invitation to the national team of Azerbaijan is like a new challenge for me."
“According to the Italian press, you will get 50,000-60,000 euros monthly...”
"It is not true. On the other hand, I come to your country not for money, but to work."
"So, you think you can get the national team qualified for the final stage of the European or world championships?"
"Very little is impossible in life. We have to work and study. I would not like to promise anything in advance. I don't like talkative trainers. I have to demonstrate my work on the field. I don’t know how everything will turn out. But I will do my best to raise your team."
"The first official game is supposed to take place in September. Is there enough time to get the team ready?"
"We have no other option. I have to be in Baku in August. The first game in the League of Nations will take place in September. I hope the national championship will start in August too. The first games are always difficult. But we have no other option, as I said."
"Do you know your assistants already?"
"I will work together with Benny Carbone and Claudio Bellucci."
"You said that you watched the game of the national team with your assistants. Don't you think that working with the Azerbaijani national team is difficult for any coach?"
"Maybe. The main thing is that the team has a spirit, as it's important to get out on the field as if playing your last game."
"We also do not have players playing abroad..."
"I know. Most of the footballers play in the Azerbaijan championship."
"What is the goal of AFFA in the League of Nations?"
"In the League of Nations, all teams are trying to get out of the group. The national team of Azerbaijan will also compete for higher places. It is a shame that we don’t have enough time to train and to know the national team. Nevertheless, I will enjoy the work. We must unite to be successful. I need the support of people, especially the football fans. Otherwise, it will be difficult alone."
"What would you say to the fans of the Azerbaijani national team?"
"I say hello to each of them. I ask them to unite for the success of the national team. And I wish you all the best!"
"Thanks for the interview!"