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Season review: Armenia

Published: Wednesday 9 November 2011, 11.15CET
After a ten-year monopoly of the Armenian Premier League, FC Pyunik finally lost their crown to a Ulisses FC side who clinched their maiden title with two games to spare.
by Khachik Chakhoyan
from Yerevan
Season review: Armenia
Ulisses coach Sevada Arzumanyan is hoisted in the air after his side's title triumph ©Avetis Ghazanchyan
Published: Wednesday 9 November 2011, 11.15CET

Season review: Armenia

After a ten-year monopoly of the Armenian Premier League, FC Pyunik finally lost their crown to a Ulisses FC side who clinched their maiden title with two games to spare.

After third-place finishes in 2009 and 2010, Sevada Arzumanyan had said there was room for improvement from Ulisses FC – and the coach was right as his Yerevan-based team claimed their first Armenian Premier League title after just five years of existence.

The champions: Ulisses FC
The new champions did not even exist when FC Pyunik lifted the first of ten successive titles, but in Ulisses's fifth year of competition, and after back-to-back third-place finishes, the monopoly was finally broken. Arzumanyan's charges were rewarded for their consistency, achieved with the help of seasoned veterans, and with two matches to spare.

The Armenian Cup final: FC Shirak 1-4 FC Mika
Shirak knocked out Pyunik in the quarter-finals but could do nothing about Mika's outstanding final performance. From the off Jozef Bubenko's side played with ruthless efficiency and after Alex broke the deadlock, striker Narek Beglaryan doubled the lead before half-time. Although Shirak were quick to respond, Mika scored twice more through Beglaryan and former Manchester United FC attacker Dong Fangzhou. For Mika it was a sixth Armenian Cup triumph in as many attempts and Beglaryan top-scored with six goals.

The European places
Ulisses FC – UEFA Champions League qualifying
FC Pyunik – UEFA Europa League qualifying
FC Gandzasar – UEFA Europa League qualifying

The surprise package: FC Gandzasar
Under the guidance of Abraham Khashmanyan, Gandzasar made an impressive title tilt, surging to top spot for the first time ever and staying there a number of weeks. Khashmanyan's team were in the reckoning for most of the campaign and although they finally fell short of clinching first place their battling last-day draw with FC Banants deservedly earned them the second third-place finish in their history. Gandzasar also boasted the division's meanest defence, conceding a miserly 18 goals.

The player of the year: Bruno Correa (FC Banants)
After two disappointing early results, Banants's fortunes took a turn for the better once the 25-year-old Brazilian forward began to adjust to his new surroundings. Correa produced either a goal or an assist in almost every match, his unpredictability coming to his side's rescue on numerous occasions. His string of impressive displays towards the end of term helped lift Banants from penultimate to fourth position.

The one to watch: Hovhannes Hovhannisyan (FC Pyunik)
Not only did the Pyunik academy product break into the first team and become a regular fixture, he also emerged as a key member of Armenia's Under-19 outfit. The 18-year-old got into the Pyunik side midway through the season and promptly established himself as the club's main striker. No team-mate matched the six goals he scored in that short time. Hovhannisyan also fired three goals to help Armenia reach the elite round of the UEFA European U19 Championship and was on target in a 4-1 U21 Championship qualifying defeat of Montenegro. He is unquestionably one of Armenia's great hopes for the future.

The leading goalscorer:
Bruno Correa (FC Banants) 15

The ups and downs: none
There was no promotion or relegation because the second tier contains only Premier League reserve teams who are ineligible for top-flight action.

The number: 1
Ullisses's Armenian Premier League title triumph was the first in their short history.

The quote:
"This season was unpredictable and very tense. I didn't know what it was like to win a trophy, I've never felt anything like it before. One thing is clear, though: I'm extremely happy. I only wish all the other coaches get to feel the same thing."
Ulisses coach Sevada Arzumanyan

Last updated: 30/11/12 20.30CET

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