Soccer: Armenia fans gear for home match after Havakakan’s two away wins

Soccer fans in Yerevan are expected to turn out for Armenia’s upcoming home game in larger numbers after two brilliant away wins scored by the national team in its latest qualifiers.

Armenia will host Denmark on Tuesday as part of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification after stunning the Czech Republic 2-1 in a dramatic match in Prague on September 6.

Before that, in June, Armenia beat Denmark 4-0 in Copenhagen just several days after a 0-1 home defeat from bottom-of-the-barrel Malta 0-1, which came as a shock to many local fans.

Now Vardan Minasyan’s side has two home qualifiers ahead to try to secure a chance to vie for a place at Brazil’s Mundial next year.

The September 10 game is scheduled to be played at Yerevan’s renovated Hrazdan Stadium, which has a capacity for nearly 55,000 spectators.

While Armenia usually hold their official matches at the much smaller Republican Stadium (with a capacity of about 14,500 spectators), the few times the team played at Hrazdan attendance was not dramatically higher.

The soccer arena built in 1970 originally to hold up to 75,000 spectators saw capacity crowds during the following decade when FC Ararat shone at the Soviet Union and international level.

Now the equally spectacular performance by the independent nation’s team gives a hope that more fans will choose to watch the game at the stadium despite what some consider to be high prices of tickets.

The sale of tickets for the game started still on August 20 through Republican and Hrazdan Stadium box offices as well as Hummel stores and Yerevan City supermarkets. Tickets are available from 2,000 AMD (in the tier), with price options including 3,000, 5,000 and 8,000 drams -- about $5, $7.5, $12 and $20, accordingly.

The Football Federation of Armenia does not yet have information on how many tickets have been sold till now, while the company involved in the sale of tickets also saying that it can provide precise information only after the game itself.

Still, it is likely that many fans who until now preferred watching games in front of their TV-sets or at sports bars will now have more motivation to attend the stadium.

Artur Grigoryan, 36, who usually follows the games of the national teams, said that after the latest victory he is waiting for the team’s next game with even greater enthusiasm, and has even bought tickets for himself and his two sons to watch the game at the stadium.

“Usually we watch soccer games at home, but this latest victory inspired me, and I decided that I should go to the stadium for the next match and take my sons with me. I hope we won’t regret it,” Grigoryan told ArmeniaNow.

According to sports commentator Senik Kara-Poghosyan, the world’s leading researchers have long proved that victories of favorite soccer teams have positive effects on both individual fans and entire city or country populations.

“The Armenian national team is in high fighting spirits for the next match and I hope to see few vacant seats at the stadium. Frankly, I don’t expect it to be full, but I hope there will be much more fans than we originally expected,” says the sports commentator, adding that attendance at stadiums does not always depend on the soccer team. “In the mid-1990s we were playing much worse soccer, but we ensured crowded stadiums, but today’s vacant seats are connected not only with the performance of players on the pitch, but also with the country’s economic situation.”

Armenia approaches the Tuesday qualifier in which it needs a victory to stay in the hunt for World Cup qualification with a number of unfortunate losses. The team’s veteran goalkeeper and captain Roman Berezovsky will miss the match because of a knee injury, as will striker Yura Movsisyan and defender Robert Arzumanyan, who have been disqualified for one game because of two yellow cards in a row. The officials at tomorrow’s Armenia v Denmark match will represent the Netherlands. Kickoff at 8:00 pm Yerevan time (6:00 pm CET), broadcast to be available on Armenia TV.