Baku, May 22, AZERTAC
Azerbaijan head coach Yashar Vahabzade was thrilled with his team's 2-1 victory over Oman in the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games football final on Sunday.
The hosts took a two-goal lead before the half-hour mark at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium through 19-year-old forward Mahir Madatov's brace.
Salaah Al Yahyaei caused some nerves by halving the deficit, but Vahabzade's men held on to claim the gold medal.
"The first half we saw a wonderful performance. In the second half we tried to do something, but it wasn't as good as the first half," he said.
"We thought that the players needed some time to rest, because it's been a tough championship.
"But deep inside I think that they did well and they had no choice but to keep the lead and win the game, which is what they did."
Oman winger Al Yahyaei's thunderbolt from distance gave his team 33 minutes to find an equaliser and force extra-time, but the Azeri defence survived a couple of tense moments to see out the win.
"Of course I dreaded it (a possible Oman equaliser), and there was some confusion amongst our players as well," admitted Vahabzade, who also insisted that he wasn't interested in coaching the senior national side.
"They tried to pull themselves together and keep the score as it was, which they managed to do, and I thank them for the game."
For Oman it was the end of an exciting road, that saw them produce thrilling second-half comebacks to draw 2-2 with Palestine and beat Turkey 3-2 in the group stages, before edging out Cameroon on penalties in the semi-finals.
"All in all, I'm very content with the level of organisation that we showed," said Oman coach Hamed Al-Azini.
"We only had 16 players when we first arrived days before the tournament and we did very well to get as far as we did."
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