Ireland take on Armenia tomorrow afternoon with the game kicking-off at 4pm (8pm local time in Yerevan). Here are a couple of facts on Armenia ahead of the game as well as some of the key players to look out for.
1. Armenia have only been playing as an independent nation since 1992, after the split of the Soviet Union but they have never managed to qualify for a major tournament (World Cup or European Championship) since that split.
2. Tomorrow will be the first time that both sides have faced each other in their history. The closest coming when Derry City faced the biggest club in Armenia, Pyunik Yerevan in 2007 in a Champions League qualifier.
3. They are currently managed by Vardan Minasyan (above), who juggles both the job with the national side, while also managing at club level with the country’s most popular side – Pyunik Yerevan.
4. At 36, Minasyan is in his second spell as manager of the national side, having previously held the job as a caretaker. His current record makes for grim reading though, with having P9 W2 D0 L7.
5. Somewhat ironically, the manager, Minasyan is younger than the country’s most capped player, Sargis Hovsepyan who at 37 has won 113 caps for his country playing at right-back.
6. Armenia’s biggest and most popular club, Pyunik Yerevan, have won the league title an incredible nine seasons in a row since 2001.
7. Currently ranked at 96 in the FIFA rankings, Armenia reached their highest position of 78th in April 2008 under the tutelage of British pair Ian Porterfield and Tommy Jones.
8. Arguably, two of their best results came under Porterfield and Jones’s reign in the Euro 2008 qualifies. One of them being a 1-0 victory over Poland before holding Portugal to a 1-1 draw. Sadly, Porterfield who was battling cancer at the time, passed away soon afterwards.
9. Voted Russia’s best goalkeeper during the late 1990s as always as holding the record for keeping the third most clean sheets in the history of the Russian Premier League – Roman Berezovsky is considered to be the best Aremenian goalkeeper ever. Also reliable when it comes to stopping spot kicks – 14 saves – a record in Russia to this day.
10.Couple of others to look out for – Karamyan twins – Artavazd and Arman, along with 21 year old Henrikh Mkhitaryan who recently moved to Shakhtar Donetsk for €7.5 million. Finally, Yura Movsisyan, who could be set for his full international debut, has been in flying form for his club Randers, having scored nine goals already this season (five coming in the European League qualifying rounds).