Romanian club FC Timişoara are flying high in Liga I and, according to coach Gavril Balint, a lot of their success can be attributed to Armenian twin brothers Arman and Artavazd Karamyan, whom he calls "leaders who you can always rely upon".
The Karamyans first caught the eye at perennial titleholders FC Pyunik in their native Armenia, and made their international debuts in 2000. Having both had unsuccessful spells in Greece and Ukraine, they then moved to Romania with FC Rapid Bucureşti. "Everyone has hard times," Artavazd recalled. "My brother and I faced it abroad. I was luckier than Arman, but we got through his low periods together."
Left midfielder Artavazd quickly became an integral member of the Rapid squad, helping the capital club to the Romanian Cup in 2005. Although Arman did not bed in as well and soon left, the twins were reunited at Timişoara in 2007 and now, sitting three points off FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti in third, they are eyeing a national title. "We've got very strong opponents," said Arman. "Dinamo will no doubt try and stay top, but Unirea and CFR also cannot be written off. The same goes for Universitatea Craiova, Steaua and Rapid. It's very tight in the upper part of the table and each team is capable of profiting from an opponents' mistake. We just need to maintain our standard and drop as few points as possible."
This season, Artavazd has scored three goals in 25 matches and while the majority of forward Arman's 18 appearances have come from the bench, he has struck five times in his last five league games and forced his way into the starting XI. "Our coach has faith in each of the 18 first-team players," Artavazd added. "Of course there is a lot more responsibility on the guys who start games and I don't want to single us out from the others. Each player can play a crucial part at any time – it's important to keep a professional approach. The coach trusts us, we realise that and try to repay him with decent performances."
With Timişoara going so well, the prospect of qualifying for a debut campaign in the UEFA Champions League is a tantalising incentive. "This year, Romania was represented in the UEFA Champions League by Cluj," Arman said. "They are a very solid and stable club. Their success emphasised that football can bring happiness to people's homes. We personally have both already played in the competition with Pyunik but this would be another level of football, another step up mentally."
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