Qarabağ FK

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Qarabağ FK logo
Full nameQarabağ Futbol Klubu
Nickname(s)Atlılar (The Horsemen)[1]
Short nameQRB
Founded1951; 68 years ago (1951)
as Məhsul[2][3][4]
GroundAzersun Arena
OwnerAzersun Holding
PresidentAbdolbari Gozal
ManagerGurban Gurbanov
LeagueAzerbaijan Premier League
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Qarabağ Futbol Klubu, commonly known as Qarabağ (pronounced [ɡɑɾɑbɑ'ɣ]) is an Azerbaijani football club playing in the Azerbaijan Premier League. The club originates from Agdam, a now-ruined ghost town labelled the 'Hiroshima of Caucasus‘,[5] but has not played in its hometown since 1993 due to the Nagorno-Karabakh war. The club is now based in the capital city Baku.[6]

Formed in 1987, Qarabağ were founding members of the Azerbaijan Premier League in 1992. One season later, they won their first league championship, becoming the first non-Baku-based club to win the Premier League title. Qarabağ is one of the two teams in Azerbaijan, along with Neftçi PFK which has participated in all Premier League championships so far.

Qarabağ plays its matches at the Azersun Arena and Tofiq Bahramov Stadium in Baku, which also serves as the venue for Azerbaijan national team matches.

In 2014, the club won the Premier League, their first league title in 21 years.[7] Qarabağ have won the Premier League six times and Azerbaijan Cup six times.[8] Qarabağ became the second Azerbaijani team after Neftçi PFK[9] to advance to the group stage of a European competition, making its first of three consecutive seasons in the UEFA Europa League group stages in 2014–15. Qarabağ is the first Azerbaijani team to advance to the group stage of the higher UEFA Champions League, competing in the 2017–18 season.[10]


Early years (1951–1991)[edit]

The club was founded in 1951 as Mehsul after the Aghdam city stadium was built;[11] there then began a serious effort towards the creation of a professional football team.[12] Consequently, Qarabağ FK, playing under the name of Mehsul, took part in the 1966 Azerbaijani championship.[2] That year, the club reached fourth place in the local championship.

Qarabağ participated in the local championship for four consecutive years during which second place was their best result (achieved in 1968). After 1968, however, owing to carelessness and a lack of financial support, the team withdrew from the championships for almost ten years.[2] In 1977, the team was reborn under name Shafaq. In 1982 Shafaq was the only representative of Aghdam in football. Between 1982 and 1987, the squad used the name "Cooperative society". In 1988, Qarabağ won the champions title in the Azerbaijan SSR local championship under its current name.[2]

Effects of war and financial struggles (1991–2008)[edit]

On 23 July 1993, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War, the city of Agdam was invaded by Armenian armed forces[13][dubious ] and the team was forced to move from Imarat Stadium to Baku, while the head coach of the team, Allahverdi Bagirov, died in the war.[14][15][16] Financial problems plagued the club during the period from 1998 to 2001, and the club went through hard times although it became the first Azerbaijani team to win away from home in a European competition by defeating the Israeli side Maccabi Haifa in the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup thanks to a double strike from club legend Mushfig Huseynov. Qarabağ has also represented Azerbaijan in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cup many times.

These problems were alleviated in 2001, when one of the largest holding companies of Azerbaijan, Azersun Holding, starting sponsoring the team. The squad used the name of Qarabag-Azersun for two seasons, but then returned its original name in 2004.[17]

Gurban Gurbanov era (2008–present)[edit]

Gurban Gurbanov the most successful Azerbaijani manager in European competitions.

In 2008, former Azerbaijani football star Gurban Gurbanov was appointed as head coach after the unexpected departure of Rasim Kara to Khazar Lankaran one week before the start of the 2008–09 season. Led by Gurban Gurbanov, Qarabağ have ignored a common strategy in Azerbaijani football: eschewing foreign signings in favour of nurturing local talent.[6] Gurbanov brought with him a tiki-taka style of play, characterised by short passes, long periods of build-up and players interchanging positions.[18]

Under Gurbanov, Qarabağ has become one of the most successful Azerbaijani football clubs in Europe (with three consecutive wins) and one which reached the UEFA Europa League play-off-round by beating Rosenborg in the UEFA Europa League, and also eliminated Honka of Finland.[19][20] The achievements in European competitions marked Gurban Gurbanov as among the most successful Azerbaijani managers ever.[21]

In 2010, the club set an Azerbaijani record for the most significant win in a European competition by beating Metalurg Skopje 4–1 in Baku and eliminating Wisła Kraków to reach the play-offs for the second year in succession.[22][23][24] In 2011, the club duplicated the same record by beating Banga Gargždai 4–0 in Gargždai.[25] The 2011–12 season ended in disappointing style for Qarabağ, however, as they finished in fourth place, leaving the club without European competition.[26] In 2013, Qarabağ reached Europa League play-off-round for third time in their history.[27][28]

In May 2014, Qarabağ earned its second league title after 21 years.[29] A month later, by beating Red Bull Salzburg, the club became first Azerbaijani side to win in the third round of UEFA Champions League.[30][31] In August 2014, the club reached Europa League play-off round for the fourth time in last five seasons.[32] In 2014, Qarabağ qualified for the 2014–15 Europa League group stage, becoming the second Azerbaijani team to advance to this stage in a European competition.[33] On 23 October 2014, after defeating[34] Ukrainian club Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1–0, the team became the first Azerbaijani club to win a Europa League group stage match.[35][36]

In 2017, after victory over the Sheriff Tiraspol, Qarabağ qualified for the UEFA Champions League play-off rounds for the first time. In the first leg they recorded a 1–0 victory over Danish side F.C. Copenhagen in Baku.[37] Despite losing 2–1 in the second leg, Qarabağ won on away goals and became the first Azerbaijani team to reach the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.[38]

Crest and colours[edit]

The crest on the club emblem is the symbol of the Karabakh. It is produced by English designers and based on the Karabakh horse.[39] The horse stems from the club's nickname "The Horsemen"; although it was included on club programmes and scarves earlier, the crest was not displayed on the shirt until 2004.[40] After Gurban Gurbanov's appointment, Qarabağ's attractive style of play led fans to call the team "Qafqazın Barselonası" ("Barcelona of The Caucasus"), which plays upon Barcelona's success in Europe.[18][41] The club is sometimes called "Qaçqın Klub" ("The Refugee Club") after its conservative position on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and refugee problem in Azerbaijan.[18][42][43]

Shirt sponsors and kit manufacturers[edit]

Qarabağ's traditional kit alludes to the club's location in Nagorno-Karabakh with the black and white representing light and darkness respectively. The club's kits are manufactured by Adidas and sponsored by Azersun, a Baku-based food producing company.

Years Manufacturer Sponsor
2004 – 2011 Germany Adidas Azerbaijan Azersun Holding
2011 – 2012 Italy Kappa
2012 – present Germany Adidas


The club have previously used Guzanli Olympic Stadium, which is situated in Quzanlı, the most populous municipality in the Agdam Rayon of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan. The Imarat Stadium which was club's original home stadium was destroyed as a result of artillery attacks from Armenian military forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh War.[44][45][46]

In 2012, the construction of a new football stadium Azersun Arena was announced, which was opened in June 2015. Azersun Arena is a multi-use football stadium in Surakhani settlement of Baku, Azerbaijan. It is currently used as the club's Azerbaijan Premier League home stadium and holds 5,800 people.[47]

The Baku Olympic Stadium and Tofiq Bahramov Republican Stadium is used for UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europe League games,[48] where the record attendance for Qarabağ occurred on 27 September 2017, in a UEFA Champions League group stage match attended by 67,200 fans against Roma.[49]


Although a large part of Qarabağ's support is drawn from the local Aghdam population, they remain immensely well supported in the rest of Azerbaijan. This is mainly due to their being the only team to represent the war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh region in the league.[50] The club is a sole remnant of the past and a living symbol of hope and pride for over half a million Azerbaijani internally displaced people. In recent years, thanks to achievements on the pitch, the club has been able to inspire and initiate special youth projects enforcing stability and development in the IDP-settlements near the border of Nagorno-Karabakh.[51][52]

The club have few supporting groups such as Imarat, Qarabağ Ordusu, Boys Qarabağ, and Ladies of Qarabağ.[53][54] These groups often receive free tickets to Qarabağ's games, which helps Karabakh to have more support from fans.

Recent seasons[edit]

Last eleven seasons
Season Div. Pos. Pl. W D L GS GA P Cup Europe Top Scorer (League goals) Head Coach
2008–09 Premier League 5 26 14 7 5 35 22 49 W Republic of Macedonia Artim Šakiri (7)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nidal Ferhatovic (7)
Azerbaijan Gurban Gurbanov
2009–10 3 42 17 18 7 37 30 69 QF EL PO Azerbaijan Rauf Aliyev (5)
Azerbaijan Afran Ismayilov (5)
2010–11 3 32 17 7 8 41 22 58 FR EL PO Georgia (country) Georgi Adamia (18)
2011–12 4 32 15 8 9 37 28 53 SF EL III R Georgia (country) Georgi Adamia (7)
2012–13 2 32 16 11 5 43 26 59 SF Brazil Richard Almeida (13)
2013–14 1 36 21 9 6 65 21 72 QF EL PO Brazil Reynaldo (22)
2014–15 1 32 20 8 4 51 28 68 W CL
Brazil Reynaldo (10)
Netherlands Leroy George (10)
2015–16 1 36 26 6 4 66 21 84 W CL
Spain Dani Quintana (15)
2016–17 1 28 19 5 4 46 14 62 W CL
South Africa Dino Ndlovu (10)
2017–18 1 28 20 5 3 37 13 65 QF CL GS Azerbaijan Mahir Emreli (8)
2018–19 1 27 19 6 2 62 19 63 SF CL
Azerbaijan Mahir Emreli (16)

European record[edit]

Qarabağ playing against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge during the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League.

The club have participated in 14 editions of the club competitions governed by UEFA, the chief authority for football across Europe. These include 4 seasons in the Champions League, 9 seasons in the UEFA Cup and Europa League, two seasons in the Cup Winners' Cup and one season in the Intertoto Cup.[55] Qarabağ has played three times in the Europa League after qualifying via the Champions League. Counting all of the 86 games the side have played in UEFA competitions since their first entry into the Cup Winners' Cup in the 1996–97 season, the team's record stands at 32 wins, 22 draws and 32 defeats.

The club plays its home matches at Tofiq Bahramov Republican Stadium and Baku Olympic Stadium in Baku. Qarabağ biggest wins is 5–0 against Samtredia in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League qualification, while the biggest defeats is 0–6 against Copenhagen in the 1998–99 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, Montpellier in the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup and Chelsea in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League.[55] With 81 caps, Maksim Medvedev has appeared in the most UEFA matches for Qarabağ,[55] while Reynaldo has scored the most goals with 11.[55] Qarabağ has played Metalurg Skopje, Twente, Copenhagen and Sheriff Tiraspol four times, more than any other team.

In 2017, after beating Copenhagen 2-2 (a) in the Play-off round of the UEFA Champions League, Qarabağ became the first Azerbaijani club to reach the Group stage.[56] They were drawn in Group C alongside Chelsea, Atlético Madrid and Roma, where they managed to obtain two points in six games after two draws and four losses.[57]

As of match played 17 July 2019
Tournament P W D L GF GA GD Win%
UEFA Champions League 32 12 12 8 31 25 +6 037.50
UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League 66 24 15 27 66 83 −17 036.36
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 4 0 1 3 1 12 −11 000.00
UEFA Intertoto Cup 4 1 0 3 2 11 −9 025.00
Total 106 37 28 41 100 131 −31 034.91


UEFA club rankings[edit]

As of 20 September 2018[58]

Rank Team Coefficient
62 Greece PAOK 20.500
63 Italy Internazionale 20.000
64 Belarus BATE Borisov 19.500
65 Azerbaijan Qarabağ 19.000
66 Spain Celta Vigo 19.000
67 Turkey Galatasaray 18.500
68 Slovenia Maribor 18.500


The squad list includes only the principal nationality of each player; several non-European players on the squad have dual citizenship with an EU country.

Current squad[edit]

As of 16 July 2019[59]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
2 Azerbaijan DF Gara Garayev
3 Brazil DF Ailton (loan from VfB Stuttgart)
4 Azerbaijan DF Rahil Mammadov
5 Azerbaijan DF Maksim Medvedev (vice-captain)
6 Bulgaria MF Simeon Slavchev
7 Azerbaijan MF Araz Abdullayev (loan from Panionios)
8 Spain MF Míchel
9 Spain MF Jaime Romero
10 Spain MF Dani Quintana
11 Azerbaijan FW Mahir Emreli
12 Azerbaijan GK Shahrudin Mahammadaliyev
13 Brazil GK Vagner
No. Position Player
14 Azerbaijan DF Rashad Sadygov (captain)
17 France MF Abdellah Zoubir
18 Azerbaijan MF Ismayil Ibrahimli
19 Croatia MF Filip Ozobić
20 Azerbaijan MF Richard Almeida (loan from Astana)
21 Azerbaijan MF Hajiagha Hajili
23 Morocco DF Faycal Rherras
29 Azerbaijan FW Musa Gurbanli
30 Azerbaijan DF Abbas Huseynov
55 Azerbaijan DF Badavi Huseynov
71 Azerbaijan MF Tural Bayramov
99 Senegal FW Magaye Gueye

For recent transfers, see 2018–19 Qarabağ FK season and Transfers summer 2019.

Other players under contract[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
28 Republic of the Congo FW Dzon Delarge

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Azerbaijan MF Nijat Suleymanov (at Zira)
Azerbaijan MF Rafael Maharramli (at Zira)
Azerbaijan MF Elvin Jafarguliyev (at Sumgayit)

Reserve team[edit]

Qarabağ-2 plays in the Azerbaijan First Division from 2018.

Club officials[edit]

Individual records[edit]

Lists of the players with the most caps and top goalscorers for the club in the Azerbijani league, as of the end of 2017–18 season (players in bold signifies current Qarabağ player). Mushfig Huseynov is the club's all-time most capped player and top scorer with 125 goals in 320 games.

Reynaldo is one of the highest goalscoring players for the club.
Top Ten Highest Goalscorers in the Azerbaijani League
Player Period Appearances Goals
1 Soviet Union Azerbaijan Mushfig Huseynov 1989–99; 2003–04; 2005–07 320 125
2 Azerbaijan Samir Musayev 2002–06 85 44
3 Brazil Reynaldo 2012–2017 87 43
4 Azerbaijan Richard Almeida 2012–18, 2019–present 163 38
5 Georgia (country) Georgi Adamia 2010–12 72 29
6 Azerbaijan Tarlan Ahmadov 1993–97; 2004 102 28
7 Azerbaijan Vugar Nadirov 2001–05; 2009–15; 2016–17 211 28
8 Azerbaijan Vagif Javadov 2007–10; 2012–13 110 25
9 Spain Dani Quintana 2015–present 69 23
10 Azerbaijan Rauf Aliyev 2006–13 131 23
Maksim Medvedev is one of the most capped players for the club.
Top Ten Players With Most Appearances in the Azerbaijani League
Player Period Caps Goals
1 Soviet Union Azerbaijan Mushfig Huseynov 1989–99; 2003–04; 2005–07 320 125
2 Azerbaijan Maksim Medvedev 2006–present 265 10
3 Azerbaijan Namiq Yusifov 2006–07; 2008–16 214 1
4 Albania Ansi Agolli 2010–2019 213 3
5 Azerbaijan Vugar Nadirov 2001–05; 2009–15; 2016–17 211 28
6 Azerbaijan Rashad Sadygov 2009–10; 2011–present 184 8
7 Albania Admir Teli 2009–15 173 8
8 Azerbaijan Aslan Kerimov 1993–97; 2003–11 168 12
9 Azerbaijan Richard Almeida 2012–18, 2019–present 163 38
10 Azerbaijan Rauf Aliyev 2006–13 131 23

Notable managers[edit]

Information correct as of match played 17 December 2018. Only competitive matches are counted.

Name Nat. From To P W D L GS GA %W Honours Notes
Allahverdi Bagirov  Soviet Union 1976 19?? N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A [60][61]
Adil Nadirov  Soviet Union 1987 19?? N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A [62]
Aghasalim Mirjavadov  Azerbaijan 1992 1996 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Azerbaijan Premier League
Azerbaijan Cup
Azerbaijan Supercup
Elbrus Abbasov  Azerbaijan 1996 1998 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Boyukagha Aghayev  Azerbaijan 1998 1999 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Elbrus Abbasov  Azerbaijan 1999 2000 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Shahin Shahuseyni  Azerbaijan 2000 2000 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Shahin Diniyev  Azerbaijan 2001 2004 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Igor Ponomaryov  Azerbaijan 2004 2005 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Elkhan Abdullayev  Azerbaijan 2005 2006 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Azerbaijan Cup
Boyukagha Aghayev  Azerbaijan 2006 2006 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Rasim Kara  Turkey Dec 2006 Jun 2008 38 14 12 12 35 32 036.84 [64]
Gurban Gurbanov  Azerbaijan Jul 2008 Present 406 226 106 74 588 301 055.67 Azerbaijan Premier League (5), Azerbaijan Cup (4) [65]

Notes: P – Total of played matches W – Won matches D – Drawn matches L – Lost matches GS – Goal scored GA – Goals against
%W – Percentage of matches won

Nationality is indicated by the corresponding FIFA country code(s).


Qarabağ has won six Azerbaijan Premier League titles, six Azerbaijan Cup titles and one Azerbaijan Supercup trophy. The club is the first non-Baku based club to have won the Azerbaijan Premier League title.[66] Qarabağ is one of the two teams in Azerbaijan, along with Neftchi Baku which has participated in all Azerbaijan Premier League championships so far.[66]



In popular culture[edit]

Qarabağ featured on football simulation game Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 and 2016.[67]


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  51. ^ OFF SIDE by Dirk-Jan Visser
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Further reading[edit]

  • Huizinga, Arthur (2012). Offside - Football in Exile. Paradox / YdocPublishing. ISBN 9789081887601.
  • Giulianelli, Emanuele (2018). Qarabag: La squadra senza città alla conquista dell’Europa. Ultra sport. ISBN 8867767119.

External links[edit]