Anji Football Club history

The head of Dagnefteprodukt — Magomed-Sultan Magomedov and ex-football player of Dinamo Makhachkala decided to form a football club in 1991. In a short period of time they were able to settle all the required formalities. The newly found club took part in the Dagestan league the same year. Out of the 20 games played, the team won 16 of them and did not lose even once — Anji became the republic Champion.

This success gave more reasons for the further development of the club. The next season, after the fall of U.S.S.R, Anji took part in the Russian Championship, where the team under the lead of Makhach Kerimov finished the season in fifth position. Alexander Markarov, who still felt he had energy after a nine year absence returned to football for that season. Returned with great impact. In the thirteen games played, the top goalscorer of the U.S.S.R. second division of all times, managed to score eleven goals. Another interesting fact was that Alexander played that season along with his son Mikhail.

The club administration hired Vladimir Petrov as the head manager and set a very ambitious aim — promotion to the first division. Anji completed this aim by winning the second division the same year. Unfortunately due to the breakup of the Russian football Championship, Anji remained in the second division.

In 1994 the club received a new manager. Aleskerov, who decided to form a new team in the city, left the club. His efforts did not end well and the manager left Dagestan. Anji ended the season with Vyacheslav Lekhkiy in the tenth position.

Changes to the coaching staff continued in 1995. The new manager Rafael Safarov was famous for raisin such noteable Russian players as Mikhail Kupryanov and Narvik Sirkhaev (who is currently playing for the team), as well as Maccabi Petakh-Tikva captain Murad Magomedov. Safarov was dismissed during the season. His spot was taken by Alexander Markarov. And it was that year when the team made an effort to reach the first division. Anji was always known for their good Cup form. Having reached the 1/16 Finals they met the future Champions of Russia — Spartak Alaniya. No one could have even spare the thought that head coach of Spartak — Valeriy Gazzaev and his team would lose in Caspiysk (that year Anji played in the city of Caspiysk at the Trud stadium). At first the game was controlled by Spartak Alaniya. Anatoliy Kanishev opened the score in the second half. A goal that made the guest side think they were through. Alier Ashurmamadov managed to draw level on the 88th minute, followed by two goals from Mikhail Markarov in extra time. Anji thrashed Zhemchuzhina Sochi in the next round 3:0. Anji were knocked out of the Cup in the quarter final by Dinamo Moscow.

In 1996 the club invited a legendary coach Eduard Malafeev, who managed to help the team finaly get promoted to the first division. The team was made up of mostly local players. The team top goalscorer was Ibragim Gasanbekov. The 11th shirt number that he wore is now not worn by any of the players following his death in 1999. His shirt with this number will forever be remembered by all the supporters as «Ibrashka». That is how he was called by the supporters and fellow team mates.

1997 and 1998 were the years when the club got acquainted with the first division. In 1999 a new aim was set for the team — promotion to the Premier League. The team was led by Gadzhi Gadzhiev, who together manager Anatoliy Byshovets won the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988 with the U.S.S.R. National team. Gadzhiev changed the team line-up almost fully, having invited not well known and demoted players. With such a team he managed to surprise everyone by leading the team to the Premier League. It was only towards the end of the season when it became known that the club was aiming for the Premier League. With no one expecting Anji to be fighting for promotion, they beat Sokol in the last game of the season 1:0 to finish first in the league and earn a promotion.

Again to everyone’s surprise Gadzhiev did not make any noticeable changes to the team, but kept the majority of players. Only one player was invited to the club — Macedonian Neboysh Stojkovic, who was a permanent starter from the beginning of the season. Anji in those years was a real machine. They did not know fear in front of the bigger clubs and in many aspects of the game were much better. The team lost only once at home to Spartak Moscow 0:2. The team spent most of the season in the top part of the table and could have ended third. The last game of the season was against Torpedo Moscow and a draw would have been enough to secure bronze medals. All was going as planned, but towards the end of the game Torpedo were awarded a very controversial penalty. This goal left the team without bronze medals. Even this bitter fact gave the team the opportunity to take part next season in the UEFA Cup. Here the team failed to shine. The Glasgow Ranger administration refused to play in Makhachkala and UEFA accepted this. In the end the teams played one game in Warsaw where the team led by Alexander Markarov lost 1:0. Not long before this game Anji lost to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Russian Cup Final after a penalty shoot-out. The team was once again left without silverware.

2002 was a very poor season for Anji. They were relegated to the first division. Ever since 2003 this is the main aim for the club. Due to a number of reasons Anji did not fulfill their aim. Only in 2009 when Anji’s sponsor became Eldorado, the club under the management of Omari Tetradze managed to win the Championship and receive a promotion to the Premier League.

After the first game of the season against Spartak Nalchik, Tetradze left the club and his position was taken by Gadzhi Gadzhiev. During the season the team did not rise to high positions in the league due to lack of an adequate amount of qualified staff and players. Anji ended the season in eleventh position.

In winter 2011 Anji received a new owner — Suleiman Kerimov. After this change, the club started to develop in all directions. In other words, the club entered a new era. The team was strengthened by new signings. The most notable signing was the famous Roberto Carlos. The club began to work at a new, much higher level.