It was a tough day for all involved within the Azerbaijan team, however captain Amina Heydarova feels the support of coach Sissy Raith will help them move on from their dispiriting 11-0 defeat to Nigeria.
The result sees the hosts of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup fall to their second defeat, leaving them no chance of qualifying from Group A. Even so, Heydarova feels the German coach has been able to pick them up every time they have been knocked down and expects the same again.
“After the games that we lose she always encourages us, supports us and reiterates her belief in our bright futures and always fills us with hope,” the 17-year-old captain told FIFA.com. “We are very proud to be working with her. She has such great experience and knowledge in women’s football.”
Despite her tender years, Heydarova is clear of her duties and recognises that she too must not be consumed by defeat and give her team-mates an emotional lift as well. “One of my roles is to support them, encourage them and lift them ahead of the next match. I always tell them not to be upset because we are a new team.
“There is a long way forward. We will become more experienced as we are currently the newest U-17 team at the competition. We don’t have any experience in this field and we have had to build everything from zero.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by the coach she admires, while Raith took what she could from their heavy defeat in Lankaran as best she could. “This is an experience that will take time for all of us to get over, but it is something that will help us in football and in our lives,” she said.
“So far we have played against Nigeria and Colombia and in these countries women’s football has been around there for 20 or 30 years – it has been there for generations. We need those generations, we need that time.”
Heydarova was quick to congratulate Nigeria on their victory and it was clear in her mind what had left them so unable to cope with the African side. “Their physical strength was too much for us.
“That was the great difference between the first and the second game, Nigeria were more powerful than the Colombians. But as you saw in both our previous games we fight until the end.”
Their swansong at Azerbaijan 2012 will see them face a Canada side that will be looking for at least a point to be certain of qualification for the quarter-finals. While Heydarova still thinks they can beat the Canadians when they meet at Dalga Arena, it is clear her confidence has been knocked.
Though she never forgets the pride she feel by representing her country as captain, there have been happier times for during the two years since the Azeribaijan U-17 women’s team was born for Heydarova. One particular occasion was during a friendly series against Latvia.
“We played with them twice, winning both times – it was part of our warm-up for the World Cup. Seing Sissy’s joy, cheer and happiness was fantastic. I’ll never forget it.”
Ultimately she is still driven to push on and represent her country for years to come and remains filled with the fire to succeed. “Of course [I want to play on as a senior]. I’m not working like a Trojan to stop it at the end of the tournament! I’m working hard to become a more talented, experienced player and hopefully I’ll become one.”