Azerbaijan will play in the FIVB World Championship this year for only the fourth time, after a ninth-place finish in their 1994 debut, 13th in 2006 and 15th last time around in 2015.
The country’s best success to date was gold at the 2016 European League after home-and-away wins over Slovakia in the final, 3-1 in Nitra and 3-0 in Baku. They came close to another medal last year, when they hosted the 2017 European Championship, reaching the semi-finals before losing to the Netherlands in five sets and then defeat in the bronze medal against Turkey.
Azerbaijan also ranked fourth in their debut appearance at the continental event, following straight-sets defeats to Italy in the semi-finals and then to Russia in the bronze medal match.
They had also been fourth in the 2015 European Games (again in Baku) after losing to Turkey 3-2 in the semi-finals and to Serbia 3-2 in the bronze medal match. Can they go one better this year in Japan and make it back to the podium?