Historic day: FC Qarabag vs MOIK Baku President Ilham Aliyev delivered speech at Khankendi Stadium

Today marks a historic event for Azerbaijani people as FC Qarabag (Aghdam) and MOIK (Baku) clashed in the Azerbaijani Cup round of 16 match at the Khankendi Stadium.

President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva were present at the stadium to watch the match.

First, the National Anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan was played.

A minute of silence was observed in memory of the sons of the Motherland who sacrificed their lives for the independence and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

President Ilham Aliyev addressed the audience before the start of the match.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear friends, welcome to Khankendi!

This is the first time that a football match is being played in our liberated territories. I sincerely congratulate all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.

The children and family members of our heroic martyrs are with us today. Let us greet them all together.

Holding this football match in Khankendi has a profound meaning. Khankendi is an ancient land of Azerbaijan. This village was established by Karabakh Khan, and then a large city was created here by Azerbaijani architects and builders and at the expense of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, for 30 years, separatists built their den in this city. This city became a symbol of separatism. Armenia, which held our lands under occupation for 30 years, believed that it could do this forever. We, the glorious army of Azerbaijan, proved to them and the whole world that this is our historical and ancient land. We are the owners of these lands, the people of Azerbaijan are. We had to come back here and we have indeed.

Khankendi was liberated from occupation three months ago. As a result of a one-day anti-terror operation, Azerbaijan fully ensured its state sovereignty. Today, the Azerbaijani flag flies in the entire Karabakh region. This is a hugely historic event and this history will live forever in our hearts. The people of Azerbaijan and all Azerbaijanis of the world will forever be proud of this Victory.

We, the owners of these lands, are building and creating. We are carrying out extensive construction and improvement work in the city of Khankendi, Khojaly and other liberated territories. This stadium was almost completely rebuilt and renovated in a matter of two months. All inscriptions depicting the symbols of separatism have already been discarded into the dustbin of history. As is the case with all other cities, the city of Aghdam is being rebuilt today. In addition, the reconstruction of the Imarat Stadium will begin in the city of Aghdam in a few months.

Regardless of the result of today's game, the winner is obvious. The winners are the people of Azerbaijan, the state of Azerbaijan! The match between Qarabag and the Central Army Sports Club in today's game, of course, has a great symbolic meaning. The unity of Karabakh, Army and People is the main source of our victory.

Dear friends, some people said that “Karabakh is Armenia, full stop” in this stadium four years ago. We have proved to them that Karabakh is Azerbaijan!

Most of our occupied lands were freed from the invaders three years ago – as a result of the Second Karabakh War. The Azerbaijani flag was raised in the city of Shusha, the crown jewel of Karabakh. Three months ago, on September 19-20, Khankendi, Khojaly, Asgaran, Khojavand and Aghdara districts were also liberated from the invaders. On October 15, I raised the Azerbaijani flag in all these cities. On November 8, a Victory Parade was held in the central square of Khankendi. Today, we are celebrating this wonderful sports holiday together.

From now on, the flag of Azerbaijan will forever fly above these lands. We, Azerbaijanis, will forever live here! Long live Karabakh! Long live our glorious army! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!

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A video presentation was screened, showcasing the interactions and thoughts of the Great Leader Heydar Aliyev with athletes, along with his perspectives on sports.

Upon entering the stadium, the head of state met with football players and the referees overseeing the match, taking commemorative photos with them.

Following President Ilham Aliyev's symbolic touch to the ball, FC Qarabag (Aghdam) vs MOIK (Baku) match commenced.

FC Qarabag secured a narrow 1-0 win in the match. Nariman Akhundzade netted a winner five minutes into stoppage time, etching his name in history as a footballer who scored in the first-ever match played in the liberated territories after 30 years.



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