By Elina Chilingarian
YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Hundreds of people poured into Republic Square on Tuesday, September 7, to celebrate yet another impressive victory of Armenia’s national soccer team that gave it a real chance of qualifying for the 2012 European Football Championship.
Armenia crushed Slovakia 4-0 in the Slovak city of Zilina to earn its fourth victory in eight matches played in Group B of Euro 2012 qualifying over the past year. It was also the team’s most convincing and important away win to date.
Vartan Minasian, the team’s 37-year-old coach, hailed the “fantastic” performance of his players, mostly aged under 24, against a nominally stronger side that did well in last year’s World Cup. “I am very proud of my team,” Minasian said at a news conference.
The shock win moved up the Armenians to third place in the group standings with 14 points, three behind leaders Russia, who drew zero-zero with Ireland in Moscow earlier on Tuesday. Ireland, which is second on 15 points, will host Armenia in Dublin on October 11 for the final and possibly decisive game of the qualifying campaign.
Armenia already beat Slovakia 3-1 in Yerevan last October, an unexpected result that marked the beginning of its best-ever performance in Euro and World Cup qualifiers.