Bichakhchyan calls on Shirak to raise game

FC Shirak beat SP Tre Penne 3-0 but could not force a smile from Vardan Bichakhchyan, whose high standards meant even three-goal Ismaël Fofana did not escape criticism.

Ismaël Fofana puts away one of his three against Tre Penne
Ismaël Fofana puts away one of his three against Tre Penne ©Hakber

FC Shirak coach Vardan Bichakhchyan's high standards meant he was less than impressed despite his side recording a 3-0 first-leg win against SP Tre Penne in their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round tie. Three-goal forward Ismaël Fofana did not escape criticism either and echoed his boss's sentiments as he admitted the team had "not played that well".

The hosts dominated the game in Gyumri, but Bichakhchyan was left wanting more from his side in the 9 July return. "Our players do not have the right to underestimate the opponents," the 35-year-old told UEFA.com. "The coaching staff did their best to prepare the team, but the game showed that the players are not at their best. Of course the scoreline will make our task for the return leg much easier, but it is also important how we played."

Bichakhchyan even expected more from Ivorian forward Fofana, who hit all three in the first game of this season's competition. "Yes, it is good when a forward scores and makes the difference. Fofana struck three goals and could easily score three more. But all our players, Ismaël included, did not play aggressively enough. We needed to play with the maximum commitment, but that was not the case."

Fofana himself admitted that it was not the team's best performance, but he remains focused on progressing to the next round. "Yes, we won and were the better team, but we did not play that well," he said. "I am happy with every goal I score, but I will be much happier when we qualify."

One man more forthcoming with his praise was injured Shirak captain Tigran Davtyan, who was impressed with what he saw from the stands. "One thing I am happy about is Fofana's goals. Those strikes will give him more confidence and that can help going forwards. He is a very useful player, and our results depend on his quality and scoring. I hope he builds on this success."

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