Champion’s League: Armenian Triumphs Power Pyunik Bid


July 30 2007

FC Pyunik face daunting opposition in big-spending FC Shakhtar Donetsk
tonight but the Armenian champions are taking strength from their
country’s recent UEFA EURO 2008~Y successes.

Previous meeting The Yerevan club won 2-0 on aggregate against Irish
representatives Derry City FC in the first qualifying round to set
up another UEFA Champions League second qualifying round meeting with
Shakhtar having lost 4-1 on aggregate to the Ukrainian giants at the
same stage of the 2004/05 competition. However, this time they feel
the fates may be on their side.

Armenian confidence For tonight’s home leg in the Armenian capital
coach Armen Gyulbudaghyants hopes his side will take inspiration from
the national team’s last two competitive results under Ian Porterfield
– a 2-1 win in Kazakhstan and a 1-0 defeat of Group A leaders Poland,
which prompted prime minister Serzh Sargasyan to perform a spontaneous
dance of joy at the Republican Stadium.

‘Not afraid’ "Pyunik aim to play good football no matter what," said
Gyulbudaghyants. "Most of our players are part of the national team
that proved its strength by beating Kazakhstan and Poland. We’re not
afraid of Shakhtar. Of course they are strong but at home we need to
do everything we can to match them. I expect an attractive match. I
hope we can fulfil our potential and surprise them."

Changed side Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu is aware the Ukrainian
side might be in for a choppier ride than they experienced in their
previous meeting.

"Pyunik have changed a lot," said the Romanian, who celebrated his
62nd birthday on Sunday. "They play a different game now. They are
more mobile, tactically more intelligent and physically strong with
experienced players."

‘We’re ready’ Gyulbudaghyants referred to Shakhtar as "a team with a
capital ‘T’ – a team of European class" after victory against Derry
set up tonight’s tie, but Lucescu expects no deference on the pitch,
saying: "Some consider Shakhtar to be favourites but in modern football
there are no favourites. Any team can spring a surprise. Away from
home we will have a very difficult game but we’re ready."