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15/03/2020 15:47
Azerbaijani crew celebrates success in Indonesian national league

Luxembourg, March 15, 2020. A small Azerbaijani community is currently achieving much success in the Indonesian women’s national league with Jakarta Pertamina Energi. Top players Odina Aliyeva and Natalya Mammadova have just completed the regular season of the local national league on top of the standings, under the guidance of their compatriot Ziya Rajabov (all pictured here). The Azerbaijani crew can now look forward to the Final Four, where they hope to cement their supremacy even further.

“I came here in early December last year, although I signed a contract with the club in August. I had such an opportunity three years ago already but at that time, I felt that I was not ready to work abroad,” Rajabov explains. A few years ago, he helped Azeryol BAKU reach the semis of the CEV Cup.

“The level of the Indonesian league is high and it has been increasing over the years. Many elite players have ventured to Indonesia to play here and this group now includes Aliyeva and Mammadova. Indonesians play a very fast game and this style has always been interesting to me. The level of the championship is good and we have had some interesting matches,” he explains.

Azerbaijani stars Aliyeva and Mammadova are wearing the shirt of the Jakarta team this season. “We have been friends with Odina for a long time. She is a great player with experience from the Italian and Turkish championships. As for Mammadova, she is obviously a very famous player. Anna Stepaniuk, who is from Ukraine and played in Baku before, left the Jakarta club and we needed to find a replacement for her. I consulted with the management of the club, and they approved the choice of Natalya,” Rajabov continues.

Coach Ziya Rajabov sharing instructions with Azerbaijani star player Natalya Mammadova during a match of the Indonesian national league

Mammadova moved to Indonesia despite announcing plans to retire from competitive sport. “She told me that she could not stand this rhythm physically anymore and she was coming from a difficult season in Kazakhstan, but we managed to motivate her to continue with her career. At 35, Natalya is not yet the oldest player performing at a high level. Francesca Piccinini, at 41, just resumed playing for an Italian club. Before coming to Indonesia, Natalya played in China, and after completing the Chinese national championship, she joined our club. She fits in well with the team and is playing at a good level,” the coach explains.

Working in Indonesia could somehow become a sort of challenge. “Not so many people speak English here, and my knowledge of it is not so good. Therefore, a translator who speaks both Indonesian and Azerbaijani helps me in communicating with the local players. In general, very positive people live here and they always smile. Indonesia is a warm country, and this warmth comes from the locals as well. I myself am a positive person. Therefore, I feel good here,” Rajabov continues. “The management has offered me to extend the contract, and I would be glad to continue the cooperation. I am the first European coach at this club. The training system that I have introduced is producing results. If everything goes well, then most likely I will accept the proposal to extend the contract,” he concludes.

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