Tokyo 2020 Wrestling: Know Bajrang Punia's semifinal opponent Haji Aliyev

Tokyo Olympics: India's Bajrang Punia's semifinal opponent Haji Aliyev from Azerbaijan is a three-time World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist.

Azerbaijan's Haji Aliyev   -  AFP

India's Bajrang Punia will face three-time world champion Haji Aliyev in the semifinal of the men's 65kg category on Friday. Here's everything you need to know about the wrestler from Azerbaijan and his form going into the knockout bout.

Who is Haji Aliyev?

Aliyev comes into Tokyo with a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. However, his success there and in the world championships came in lighter weight brackets - he competed in the 61kg in the WCs and the 57kg in Rio.

That said, Aliyev has found success in the 65kg category. He won consecutive gold medals at the European Championships (2018-2019) and also took gold in the 2019 European Games.

Closer to the Olympics, Aliyev won bronze in the Individual World Cup and then took silver in the European qualifier before ending with bronze in the Poland Open. Punia had opted out of the tournament, choosing to train with his coach Shako Bentinidis instead.

Road to final

Punia

The Indian medal prospect advanced to the semifinal after edging Kyrgyzstan's Ernazar Akmataliev and pinning Iran's Morteza Ghiasi - the only victory by fall on the day. A single takedown in a 3-3 scoreline made the difference against Akmataliev while the 27-year-old Asian champion Punia found himself trailing against Ghiasi before he pinned the Iranian, who desperately tried to escape the hold but failed.

Aliyev

The Azerbaijani wrestler beat Kazakhstan's Daulet Niyazbekov 9-1 in a controlled quarterfinal bout. He beat Senegal's Adama Diatta 4-0 before that.

Head-to-head

The two have taken each other on the mat just once. In the 2019 Pro Wrestling League, Punia beat him 8-6.

 What time is Bajrang Punia's semifinal bout?

Punia and Haliyev semifinal is scheduled for 2:45 PM IST on August 6 (Friday).

Where is Bajrang Punia's semifinal being telecast?

You can catch the 65kg semifinal bout on the Sony Sports Network. Alternatively, you can live stream the bout on the Sony Liv app too.

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