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Shock defeat for home Karate star Rafael Aghayev

Karate Day 1: Baku 2015 - 1st European Games
The first day of Baku 2015 Karate action at the Crystal Hall provided a major shock. Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Coach backs Azerbaijani hero to overcome setback

Rahman Hatamov, the head coach of the Azerbaijan karate team, remained confident of his side's medal prospects after Rafael Aghayev finished runner-up in Pool A in the elimination round of the men's -75kg kumite at Crystal Hall 3 on Saturday.

Greeted with a standing ovation by the spectators when he entered the arena, Aghayev won his first match in style but was beaten in the second.

Turkey's Erman Eltemur stunned Azerbaijani spectators with a clear 5-3 win, leaving Aghayev to secure his semi-final place with a 3-1-win over Ruslans Sadikovs of Latvia. Eltmur was undefeated in his three matches.

"I love him (Aghayev) like my brother," said Eltmur. "I'm so proud to fight him. He is the idol and one of the best in the world. It's an achievement that I have never known before. It is the best of my life."

"Rafael has been top for so many years," said the Azerbaijani's coach, Hatamov, "it's a great pressure. He is always expected to win, but he is only one person. Many athletes would like to be as strong as him. He has had some psychological problems coming into this event. But don't worry, he will recover to take gold here.

"I think we should do well in the semifinals. We understand the responsibility which rests upon us. We owe the country our best performance in this first European Games."


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