Qarabag

Dino Ndlovu and Qarabag Aiming for a European Miracle

The long road to the group stages began back in Baku in early July for the team managed by Gurban Gurbanov, safely negotiating their way through a second qualifying round tie against Georgian opponents Semitredia. Ndlovu bagged himself a brace of goals in a 5-0 first leg rout on home soil, making the 0-1 away win in Tbilisi a mere formality.

 

Paired with Moldovan opponents in the third qualifying round, after a frustrating 0-0 draw at home in Baku, it was with much relief for Qarabağ when Ndlovu quite literally shot the Sheriff with a crucial goal in first-half stoppage time of the second leg in Tiraspol. Spanish midfielder Míchel scored a late second, before the home side put one away from the penalty spot as a late consolation.

 

Though Qarabağ avoided some of the bigger names in the play-off round draw, beating Danish champions FC Copenhagen would be no easy feat. However, after stunning the Scandinavians with a 1-0 win in Baku, The Horsemen would need to ride their luck somewhat in the away leg. Fortune smiling in their favour, yet dominated in almost every statistical respect, Ndlovu came to the rescue when he scored a priceless 63rd-minute away goal in the 2-1 defeat.

Though Qarabağ avoided some of the bigger names in the play-off round draw, beating Danish champions FC Copenhagen would be no easy feat. However, after stunning the Scandinavians with a 1-0 win in Baku, The Horsemen would need to ride their luck somewhat in the away leg. Fortune smiling in their favour, yet dominated in almost every statistical respect, Ndlovu came to the rescue when he scored a priceless 63rd-minute away goal in the 2-1 defeat.

 

Ndlovu would next make his mark against Atlético Madrid, but unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons. The 27-year-old picked up two yellow cards in the space of fifteen second-half minutes, but despite his dismissal, Qarabağ somehow managed to resist everything Diego Simeone’s side could throw at them in Baku, standing firm for a highly creditable 0-0 draw. Proving that result was no fluke, they almost won the next match in the Spanish capital, leaving the shiny new Wanda Metropolitano stadium with a 1-1 draw after taking the lead.

 

Suspended from that encounter and for the next at home against Chelsea at the end of November, Ndlovu will be forced to watch from the stands as his side looks for their next continental milestone. For those taking a glance at the latest Champions League football betting odds, Qarabağ are 100/1 outsiders to qualify with just two points in Group C, whilst Antonio Conte’s side could secure their passage to the next phase in Baku.

 

By the time Ndlovu is back in contention for selection against AS Roma, for the final group game in December, his side will almost certainly have been eliminated from the Champions League, but that doesn’t mean the continental journey is over just yet. There’s still the battle for the third position to be resolved and if Atlético Madrid continue to falter, just maybe, Qarabağ and their South African striker could continue their continental adventure in the Europa League.

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