FC Pyunik won their fifth consecutive Armenian title with a game to spare on Sunday, despite a 1-0 defeat against FC Kotayk. The last team who could catch them, FC Banants, lost 4-1 to FC MIKA to leave Pyunik four points clear at the top.
Pyunik have survived a late slump in form, taking just one point from their last three games. They have won every league title since 2001, taking their total to eight. They lost just once prior to their recent struggles, building enough of a cushion to hold off the chasing trio of Banants, Kotayk and MIKA.
Kotayk trouble champions
Kotayk's win against Pyunik was their second of the season, and they went unbeaten in four matches against the champions this campaign. Pyunik have the best attack, with 30 goals, and the meanest defence, with 13 conceded, in the division, but looked in trouble after drawing against MIKA and losing to Banants in recent weeks. Despite another failure on Sunday, they did enough to retain their crown.
'We got gold medal by losing'
"I would have liked us to become champions after yet another victory. We got the gold medal by losing, which does not make me too happy," said Pyunik coach Henk Wisman. "However, first place is first place. Towards the end of the league the team looked a bit tires as many of our players were involved in matches for the various Armenian national teams. We simply lacked physical condition."
Faith in youth
Wisman put his faith in local youngsters after foreign stars Mamadou Diawara, Apoula Edima Edel Bete and Karl Lombe did not report back for duty after going on holiday. Several players from the youth academy were handed debuts, including Hayk Chilingaryan, Georg Nranyan, Norayr Sahakyan, Rafael Safaryan and Andranik Gasparyan. Those players form the core of the country’s Under-17 and Under-19 sides.
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