Armenia, another country in our Nations League group that are a former USSR country which now are worryingly watching on wondering what Vladimir Putin’s plans are next. The other country Ukraine, is currently under invasion and been bombed which is a tragic turn of events in such a short time.
Ireland have only ever played Armenia twice in our history when we were drawn together in a Euro 2012 qualification group. Ireland won both games scrappily and finished 2nd in the group and landed a play-off draw against Estonia, which Ireland won 4-0, sending the team to Poland for the ill fated Euros where we lost all three group games. In the qualifying group there was also Russia, Solvakia, Macedonia and Andorra. The Armenian’s had a good campaign finishing third in the group with 17 points ahead of Slovakia.
Ireland under manager Giovanni Trapattoni had a lot of luck that campaign, much like on 888 casino for Irish players. Without playing particular well throughout the campaign we got to the final. We robbed a point in Moscow when a Richard Dunne inspired defensive performance saved us when a 3-4 loss would have been a fair result, as mentioned earlier we scrappily beat Armenia and played out some boring draws and lost 3-2 at home to Russia. The hidings we got at Euro 2012 were just rewards for the negativity of the football we played that campaign.
Armenia have never qualified for a major tournament and their qualification campaigns just never quite have enough consistency to land them a play off slot. And their last World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign sums it up, they were in a tough group with Romania, Germany, Iceland, North Macedonia and Liechtenstein. Remarkably after 3 games they sat top of the table with 9 points, beating Liechtenstein 0-1, Iceland 2-0 and Romania 3-2 and then in very predictable fashion it fell apart where they picked up another 3 points and finished 4th in the group.
They are little like Georgia (a team we are oh so familiar with) technically proficient, lots of possession but just lack that winning edge in tight games, where their more experienced European neighbours luck usually falls their way and narrowly winning by the odd goal. There must be so many games where the Armenian coaches leave the pitch thinking but for these minor we could have the three points.
For the 2020 Nations League C qualifying group Armenia surprised North Macedonia, Estonia and Georgia and were promoted into Group B. They are definitely the weakest side on paper with Ireland running them close. Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, had a very rocky start in WC qualification in comparison after our first three WC qualifying games we had zero points but we did the opposite to Armenia and finished strongly. Following Ireland can be very disappointing no wonder so many Irish fans like to gamble.
Manager: Joaquín Caparrós, the Spaniard took over in March 2020. He is a very experienced coach having managed several teams in La Liga like Sevilla, whom he won promotion with and helped establish as one of the top 6 teams in Spain. He has a good record as Armenian coach having played 18 won 7 drawn 5 and lost 6.
Squad: Most of the squad play domestically with a few players in Russia, Cyprus and Kazakhstan. The only player in one of the A list leagues is Armenian legend Henrikh Mkhitaryan, currently with Roma in Italy. He is only just turned 32! I would have thought he was a lot older. Sargis Adamyan, is on loan from Hoffenheim and playing with Club Brugge since January. At Hoffenheim he had a ok scoring record with 5 goals in 15 games in 2019 and only 2 goals last season. Which is still better than any of Ireland’s strikers the past few years.
Star Player: Tigran Barseghyan, a goal scoring midfielder. He has played in Macedonia, Kazakhstan before signing for Slovan Bratislava in November 2021, he hasn’t played yet for the club due to injury. But he had scored 42 goals in the previous three seasons, and he has 8 international goals in 44 games
Prediction: Under normal circumstances a surprise 3rd place finish for Armenia with Ukraine or Scotland having a poor campaign. But with the war in Ukraine now, who knows if their games will go ahead or not.
Finally: For away fans travelling to Yerevan read up on fans plans for that trip on the ybig forum
Nations League fixtures
June 04 Ireland vs Ukraine 19:45
June 07 Armenia vs Ireland 17:00
June 11 Ireland vs Scotland 18:00
June 14 Ukraine vs Ireland 17:00
Sept. 23 Scotland vs Ireland 19:45
Sept. 26 Ireland vs Armenia 19:45
Words: Carl McMahon