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Dundalk are in Azerbaijan for the second leg of their second round Champions League qualifier with Qarabag, a side that has gone from losing their home to war, to becoming regulars in the group stages of European soccer.
The Lilywhites’ opponents are now the dominant force in the Azerbaijani Premier League, having won six successive league titles. It’s been a swift rise for a team who were forced out of their home in 1993 and have never returned.
Originally from the border town of Agdam, which was abandoned in the wake of the Armenia-Azerbaijan war and remains a ghost town to this day, the club went close to going out of existence during their exile.
Situated in the heart of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Agdam was heavily shelled during the conflict with Qarabag’s Imarat Stadium and their training ground both hit by missiles.
As the conflict escalated in the early 90s and Agdam fell under Armenian control, Qarabag were forced to move 150 miles away from their home to Baku, where they have remained.
Plagued by financial and governance issues in the years following their enforced move, Qarabag found stability in 2001 when the state-backed Azersun, a company that controls much of Azerbaijan’s food production, took charge of the foundering club.
While Azersun’s ownership
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