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Season review: Armenia

Published: Thursday 18 November 2010, 13.03CET
A tenth successive Armenian title completed FC Pyunik's domestic treble, with coach Vardan Minasyan saying: "Only true champions win their final four matches in a row."
by Khachik Chakhoyan
from Yerevan
Season review: Armenia
Pyunik celebrate a tenth successive title in Armenia ©Avetis Ghazanchyan
Published: Thursday 18 November 2010, 13.03CET

Season review: Armenia

A tenth successive Armenian title completed FC Pyunik's domestic treble, with coach Vardan Minasyan saying: "Only true champions win their final four matches in a row."

A tenth successive Armenian Premier League title completed FC Pyunik's domestic treble but FC Banants chased them to the wire. Bottom side FC Shirak, meanwhile, were spared relegation as the Football Federation of Armenia (HFF) decided to expand the league for 2011.

Champions: FC Pyunik
Pyunik won their tenth straight championship yet Vardan Minasyan's side were forced to play until the final while by a competitive Banants team, eventually taking the title by a single point on the last day of term. "Only true champions win their final four matches in a row, when it matters most," said Minasyan, who has been involved in all ten successes – four as player and six as coach.

Cup final: FC Pyunik 4-0 FC Banants
Banants ran Pyunik close in the league but there was no contest when the clubs played for the Armenian Independence Cup in Yerevan on 10 May. Pyunik led 3-0 before the interval, with Gevorg Ghazaryan scoring his second of the game after the break.

European places*
FC Pyunik – UEFA Champions League qualifying
FC Banants – UEFA Europa League qualifying
Ulisses FC – UEFA Europa League qualifying

*Exact rounds and entry subject to final confirmation from UEFA. The Armenian Cup winners or runners-up next spring will also play in UEFA Europa League qualifying

Surprise package: FC Impuls
A very young side – average age 23 – Impuls had been earmarked for relegation before the campaign began. Yet under Armen Gyulbudaghyants, Armenia's first UEFA Pro licence-holding coach, they took points off Pyunik in three of their four meetings, beat bronze medalists Ulisses FC twice, and finished a respectable fifth in the table.

Player of the year*: Karlen Mkrtchyan (FC Pyunik)
Defensive midfielder Mkrtchyan's hard work and commitment were pivotal to Pyunik and also gave heart to the national team. His composure and fighting spirit came to the fore in all of Pyunik's toughest tests, with his last-gasp solo effort against Banants on 31 October arguably the goal that won his side the title.

*UEFA.com's choice; official selection yet to be made

One to watch: Valter Poghosyan (FC Banants)
Banants coach Stevica Kuzmanoski values experience but made an exception for attacking midfielder Poghosyan. The 18-year-old's increasingly confident displays, fine passing and scoring exploits for Banants earned him international caps at Under-19, U21 and then senior level this year.

Leading scorers: Gevorg Ghazaryan & Marcos Pizzelli (both FC Pyunik) 16

Promoted: FC Ararat Yerevan

Number: 10
Pyunik No10 Ghazaryan shared the golden boot with team-mate Pizzelli and also netted twice in the cup final success against Banants.

Quote: "At the start of the season I said I would swap the title for a place in the next round of the UEFA Champions League, but this became a very special championship for me. We relied on just 12 or 13 players for the whole season, and they improved enormously and played their part in the national team too. I am happy Pyunik have a winning mentality."
Pyunik coach Vardan Minasyan

Last updated: 04/01/11 1.47CET

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