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Armenia premier league
The Armenian Premier League is the best football competition in Armenia. From 1936 to 1991, the competition was held as a regional tournament in the USSR. After independence, the Armenian Football Association was the unit responsible. Over the years, the league has developed into a small league with nine teams. The winner of the league receives a place in the first qualifying round of Uefa Champions league.
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The Armenian national football team (Armenian: Hayastani futboli azgayin havak'akan) represents Armenia in club football and is controlled by the Armenian Football Association, the umbrella organization of Armenian football. After independence from the Soviet Union, the team played on October 12, 1992 their first international match. The home of Armenia is the Republican Stadium in Yerevan. The national team has taken part in qualifying for each major tournament starting in UEFA Euro 1996 but still have to qualify for the knockout stages of a UEFA European Football Championship or FIFA World Cup. In the biggest success of the Armenian national team, the team finished third in the qualifying phase of the UEFA Euro 2012. Controversial decisions prevented them from finishing second and moved into the play-off phase.
The main training facility is located in the Technical Center Academy of the Armenian Football Association in the northern district of Avan in the capital Yerevan, and the team plays their home games in the Republican Stadium.
Armenia became an independent state in 1991, the Armenian SSR having previously played for the Soviet Union national football team. The Football Federation of Armenia was founded on 18 January 1992 and established relations with FIFA in 1992 and with UEFA in 1993. The history of the Armenia national team began on 14 October 1992, when Armenia played its first match against Moldova. That meeting ended in a goalless draw. Since 1996, the team is a member of qualifiers European and World Championships. Armenia has competed in every UEFA Euro qualification and FIFA World Cup qualification since 1994.
The first head coach of the Armenian national squad was Soviet Armenian football star Eduard Markarov. Armenian winner of the UEFA Jubilee Awards and fellow Soviet Armenian football great Khoren Hovhannisyan also became a head coach. Many of the early coaches of the national team never stayed for longer than two years. Scottish coach Ian Porterfield became head coach in 2006 and began to lead the team to some of its first successes in the international stage. Under his leadership, the Armenian team had played a series of great matches with victories over Kazakhstan 2–1, Poland 1–0 and Protugal 1–1, with Cristiano Ronaldo in the lineup. But then tragedy struck; the 62-year-old Porterfield died of cancer, leaving his started work unfinished. An acting assistant coach, Vardan Minasyan, became acting head coach following Porterfield's death. Minasyan learned much from Porterfield and Samvel Darbinyan, another former head coach of Armenia, during this time about coaching and managing. On February 10, 2009, after the draw for the qualifying round teams of the UEFA Euro 2012, by order of the President of the Football Federation of Armenia Ruben Hayrapetyan, Minasyan continued to lead the Armenian national squad, only now as the official head coach.
In the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying matches, Minasyan led Armenia in Group B against Russia, Slovakia, Ireland, Macedonia and Andorra. Armenia, considered a heavy underdog, defeated the group favorite Slovakia with two crushing defeats 4–0 and 3–1, defeated Andorra in two matches as well 4–0 and 3–0, drew with Macedonia 2–2 and defeated them in the deciding match 4–1 and tied with the group winners Russia 0–0. The Armenian team scored the most goals out of Group B, with a total of 22. Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Armenia scored 6 goals, the most goals scored by a single player in Group B. The national team almost made the final draw, but controversially lost in a decisive match against Ireland 1–2. Armenian goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky was given a red card by spanish referee Eduardo Gonzalez at the 26th-minute for supposedly touching the ball outside the goal area. However, replays clearly showed the ball touched his chest and never touched his hands. Replays also showed that Ireland striker Simon Cox had actually touched the ball with his right hand. Despite this, Gonzalez did not penalize Cox. Cox would later admit he touched the ball with his hand. Had Cox’s offence been punished, Armenia would have been awarded a free-kick. Berezovsky was substituted with 19-year-old debuting Arsen Petrosyan. Valeri Aleksanyan later accidentally scored an own goal past Petrosyan, which ended up deciding the match. Armenia and Ireland would each score another goal. The Football Federation of Armenia unsuccessfully filed protest over the match. Gonzalez had later resigned after the match. Despite not getting to play in the UEFA Euro 2012, Minasyan brought the Armenian national team to a record #41 FIFA ranking, placed the team in a personal best third place in the group stage and went on to become the longest leading head coach of the Armenian football team. Minasyan stated he was proud of the entire team. They were all welcomed in the airport back in Armenia as heroes.
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