The emotion of the occasion proved too much for Azerbaijan keeper Rovshan Huseynli, who burst into tears after scoring his side’s final goal in their historic 13-8 extra-time win over Thailand in the Round of 16 of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016. “I couldn’t hold them back,” he explained afterwards, having regained his composure. “It just got too much for me. I’ve never scored before and I realised there and then that we’d won the match, though we need to start getting ready for our next date.”
Sadly for him, Huseynli will have to sit out Azerbaijan’s quarter-final match due to suspension, having picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against the Thais. “I felt this indescribable joy and this immense sadness at not being able to pull on the jersey against Portugal,” he said after having given his all in a thrilling encounter. The Azeris had seemed to be on course for an easy win after dominating the early exchanges and taking a 2-0 lead. Their Asian opponents roused from their slumber, however, and turned the tie around, taking a 6-4 lead at one stage.
“I felt tense but I was still confident we could come back and win,” explained Huseynli, who plays his club futsal for Araz Naxcivan MFK. “Thailand coming back into the game sort of pushed us on. Our concentration went up a notch.” The tension of the occasion also led to a terse exchange or two between the Azeri players. “That’s just part of the game. We’ve all got character and we don’t always hold back when we talk to each other,” he said in reference to his on-court spat with team-mate Fineo.
The Thais also gave Huseynli plenty to ponder during the 50-minute encounter, peppering his goal but also missing twice from the second penalty mark. “I’m waiting for my father to give me his opinion now. He followed the match very closely, as if he were here. He was a goalkeeper too and I think we’ll be having a very nice chat,” added the 25-year-old custodian, speaking with the same air of calm that he usually shows on the court.
As he explained, however, he felt anything but calm during this game: “My heart was beating so fast and I was boiling inside. It’s a keeper’s job, though, to exude confidence and composure.”
In helping Azerbaijan reach the quarter-finals on their debut appearance at the world finals, Huseynli has shown that he can handle the big occasion. “It’s one of the high points of my career but I’ve had a few others too and I want to experience some more in the future. We can’t stop here,” he added, already turning his thoughts to the advice he will pass on to his replacement, whose task it will be to halt Portugal and their star man Ricardinho.