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Victory in Ireland the only agenda for Armenia

Published: Monday 10 October 2011, 23.27CET
Ahead of his team's winner-takes-all encounter in Dublin, Armenia coach Vardan Minasyan has warned the Republic of Ireland that his in-form side will not sit back on Tuesday.
Victory in Ireland the only agenda for Armenia
Armenia are on a brink of a surprise place in the play-offs ©Avetis Ghazanchyan

Tournament statistics

Republic of IrelandArmenia

Goals scored20
 
22
Total attempts120
 
162
Attempts on target57
 
65
Attempts off target48
 
70
Attempts blocked0
 
0
Attempts against woodwork1
 
2
Corners42
 
53
Offsides27
 
13
Yellow cards19
 
19
Red Cards1
 
1
Fouls committed176
 
133
Fouls suffered160
 
145
 
Published: Monday 10 October 2011, 23.27CET

Victory in Ireland the only agenda for Armenia

Ahead of his team's winner-takes-all encounter in Dublin, Armenia coach Vardan Minasyan has warned the Republic of Ireland that his in-form side will not sit back on Tuesday.

Standing on the cusp of a first appearance in the play-offs, Armenia have exceeded all expectations. However, having come so far, coach Vardan Minasyan has no intention of allowing the opportunity to pass by when his side face the Republic of Ireland, insisting: "We will play to win."

Armenia have emerged as the surprise package of this UEFA European Championship qualification campaign. After losing three of their first four matches in 2011, there was nothing to suggest Minasyan's charges would be anywhere near a runners-up berth going into their final Group B fixture.

Yet, three wins and 11 goals later the former Soviet republic are riding high on a wave of confidence. Just one more victory in Dublin on Tuesday and the prospect of a play-off place will have transformed from pipe dream into reality.

"Before this qualifying campaign began we never set the goal of reaching the European Championship," said Minasyan. "It was more important for us to build a strong team with a bright future. We are doing it our way, calmly and confidently. Yet if we are to complete the building of this team, we need victory in Dublin."

Suddenly, for a nation whose closest dalliance with success was a fourth position in UEFA EURO 2004 qualifying, the goalposts have shifted dramatically. Now, with 17 points from nine matches, Armenia lie third, a point behind Giovanni Trapattoni's team, and boasting a goal difference six better than either Russia or Tuesday's opponents.

Goal difference will not help them now, however, only victory, but that is a greater possibility than at any stage in their roller-coaster campaign, especially with centre-back Hrayr Mkoyan back after suspension. "It is just like any other match," added Minasyan. "We will play to win, like we always do."

For their part, the hosts will be content with the draw that will seal second spot at Armenia's expense. Their task has not been made any easier by the absence of captain Robbie Keane who suffered an abductor muscle injury in Andorra on Friday.

The Republic of Ireland's leading scorer's boots will be filled by West Bromwich Albion FC forward Simon Cox, who has made just two substitute appearances for the Premier League club this season. Ireland are buoyed, though, by the return from a ban of Richard Dunne.

"We must do what we want to do – that's maturity," said Trapattoni, who confirmed that goalkeeper Shay Given will skipper the team. "For our players, this is a good test to show that with this maturity, we can achieve the result we want. All that matters is the result."

Given is hoping Ireland can continue their impressive run of eight successive clean sheets. "We look solid," said the Aston Villa FC man on the eve of his 118th international appearance. "But what has happened in the previous eight or nine games doesn't really matter; it's what happens tomorrow night that matters. We know that if we keep a clean sheet, we are in the play-offs."

Last updated: 11/10/11 10.37CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/newsid=1515853.html#armenia+ireland+victory

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