Soccer: Armenia coach unhappy with behavior of players in Bulgaria match

Soccer: Armenia coach unhappy with behavior of players in Bulgaria match

Armenia head coach Vardan Minasyan

Armenia head coach Vardan Minasyan has denounced the lax discipline of his players in this week’s World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria, saying that the two red cards issued to them by the referee had changed the course of the game.

Armenia’s second-half substitute Marcos Pizzelli was sent off the pitch as one of the culprits in the fracas that broke out in the Bulgarian penalty area after an Armenian player was penalized for pushing a Bulgarian defender. Minutes later frustrated Gevorg Ghazaryan hit a ball boy with the ball and immediately got the marching orders, leaving his side down to only nine men. Armenia failed to score an equalizer in the remaining time, with the game ending in Bulgaria’s victory 1-0.

The controversial match elicited mixed reactions from media and fans, with many in Bulgaria, including among soccer functionaries, taking the behavior of Armenian players on and off the pitch in Sofia as an insult to the nation. Many soccer fans in Armenia, too, feel ‘hard done-by’ as they believe it was the Bulgarians who should have been penalized in the first place for their repeated fouls against Armenian players early on in the game.

Speaking after the match, Armenia coach Minasyan first congratulated Bulgaria on the win and then apologized for Ghazaryan’s unsportsmanlike behavior that aroused a stormy reaction of the crowd. Both red-carded Armenian players will miss the crucial World Cup qualifier against Italy in Yerevan next month.

Asked whether Armenia deserved to lose to Bulgaria, Minasyan said: “We’ve got what we’ve got. The most negative moment for me in the match is the behavior of my players on the pitch and we still have to analyze these episodes.”

The coach said it would remain an internal matter even if someone was to be punished for the behavior in the Bulgaria match from among his team’s players.

Meanwhile, through his Facebook page Ghazaryan himself apologized for breaking the Fair Play rules to the Federation, all members of the national team, fans and the teenager that he hit with the ball. “I hope that FIFA will treat my deed with understanding as I understand and admit my fault,” he wrote.