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HomeSportsArmenian dramas. How Armenia played a decent game, but still lost

Armenian dramas. How Armenia played a decent game, but still lost

Date: June 5, 2023 Time: 05:55:45

Armenia thoroughly prepared for the start of the qualifying round. The influx of people wishing to attend this match was huge. At the airport, on the eve of the game, in the arrivals area, huge queues.

– First time in Armenia? asks the border guard.

– Yes, it never was.

– Purpose of the visit?

– To football.

The girl loses interest in my passport, looks up:

– Will you support Armenia? So welcome! – and smiles a wide and welcoming smile, which can only belong to women over a certain age – they know a lot about who is welcome to open the door of their soul, and with whom to remain cold.

The airport is close to the city. The way to the center, even taking into account traffic jams on Friday nights, is no more than 20 minutes.

The taxi driver, of course, tells how in his youth he was a neighbor of Khoren Oganesyan himself, the legendary player from Ararat and the USSR national team. A detailed story follows about how Khoren, like a neighbor, got tickets to the no less legendary stadium in Hrazdan.

In the morning I looked towards the stadium area. They haven’t played there for a long time: the stadium is privately owned and in dire need of repair. But how tactfully they once inscribed it into the surrounding landscape! The stands are like the slopes of a gorge that slides down to the river.

Now above the stadium, a little to the side, is the Ararat brandy factory.

– Are you photographing a plant or a river? – asks the grandmother who sells something in the basement of the premises.

– Yes, I’m more interested in the stadium…

“Brother, they won’t be playing here today,” a random passerby immediately gets ready to explain to me. The city lives for soccer.

There are enough police in the city every day leading up to the Armenia-Turkey match. But in general, everything is polite and calm. Republic Square (formerly, as you might guess, Lenin Square) and its surroundings are full of people even after midnight.

At every corner there is a traffic sign that prohibits car horns. But this is a southern country with its own unique flavor! One honks because he is pulling away from the curb. The second – because he is going to park. The third, because he plans to go straight and warns everyone about it. Atmosphere!

I’m going to the Ramada hotel to take a look at the Turkish team staying there. But the first person I meet in the lobby is Nobel Arustamyan. A colleague treats me to a wonderful Armenian breakfast: an omelette with herbs, hummus, lahmajun flatbread with beef, excellent tea, and most importantly, he talks nicely about the chances of both teams, about the leaders of the home team, one of which plays in the Argentine Boca Juniors, and the other – in MLS. A separate story consisted in listing all the victorious matches of the Armenian national team in recent years. In gratitude for such a detailed educational program, I give you a stack of Soviet sports newspapers with high-profile front pages of recent days.

But the sports component is one thing, the political subtexts are another. Probably no one needs to explain what the Armenia-Turkey cartel means for both countries. A decade and a half ago, the teams already met in one of the playoffs. Great importance was attached to the state of the matches: the heads of state at both meetings were in each other’s boxes. And so the general atmosphere around the games was too politicized. Now, against the background of the emerging thaw in relations (the borders are scheduled to open in the summer), the decision was made to depoliticize the party as much as possible. There will be no presidents or prime ministers on both sides. The maximum level allowed is two sports ministers. The same is expected to be done in the second leg.

The local federation, the authorities, the press every day before the match actively urged the fans to cheer for Armenia, and not for Turkey. It is clear that for many it is not the same.

The stadium is located near the city center. In principle, everything is close in Yerevan. Everywhere can be reached on foot. For more than three hours, the fans have already gathered at the closed doors of the stadium. Many – with cakes and pita bread. Right on the way to the stadium there are few cafes and restaurants, but there are many bakeries.

They play in the old Dynamo stadium, which has undergone various reconstructions since the 1950s, it was with running tracks, now without. But in general, it cannot be called convenient – the tracks have been removed, but the distance from the stands to the field has not gone anywhere. And the curves behind the goal do nothing more than move the field away for the fan sector. Well, at least there is a roof around the entire perimeter: shortly before the game, a fine rain began to drizzle.

As such, there are no rooms below the grandstand: you pass between the stands and from the first row you go up to the right sector, to your place.

The gates opened just over two hours before kick-off, and about an hour before kick-off, the stands were about three-quarters full. There were no activities, but the local fans were hungry for football and were entertained. Give a flash interview with one of the collections on the edge of the field – the stadium is already rejoicing.

A large number of fathers and mothers came with their children. Next to me are my father and three preschool-age daughters. None of them led for the entire match!

I noticed that there were enough single girls who came to the game alone, wrapped in the Armenian flag. Perhaps they were looking for their destiny? No, honestly we worry the 90 minutes.

– Do you think there will be a full house? I ask my neighbor on the other side.

– I’m afraid not. After all, we have the same corruption in Armenia that you have in Russia. The excitement is enormous, and many tickets immediately made their way to speculators. They sell for 40,000 drams for good places (that’s about 8,000 rubles). For us it is very expensive.

But the stadium still fills up. There is no free space at all!

– Do you know what the main intrigue is today? – says a neighbor on the podium. – Everyone will stand up during the Turkish anthem or not. He didn’t get up last time.

But relationships are really changing: almost everyone gets up, and the first moments of the game are the same atmosphere that has already left us: firecrackers, smoke, general rejoicing.

The recent devastating earthquake in Turkey made an unexpected contribution to the mending of relations between neighboring nations. Armenia sent a considerable number of rescuers, Turkish fans expressed their gratitude during the last matches of the European cups; among others, the flag of Armenia was on the banner (“Soviet Sport” spoke about this most powerful humanitarian action). And now, during the Turkish anthem, one and the same clear word was displayed on the stadium screens in different languages ​​- “PEACE”. The stadium applauded.

The Turkish team relied on a quick goal – in the first 10 minutes several sharp attacks were carried out at once. But the goal happened at the opposite gate: Armenia made a strong attack from the right flank and opened the scoring.

The favorite of the match, which was undoubtedly the visiting team, was able to take the lead only after 70 minutes – 2:1. The rest of the time, under the noise of the stands, the Armenians charged the ball into someone else’s penalty area and could have done it several times, but the score remained 2:1 until the final whistle.

There was no aggressiveness, the fans were pleased with the disinterested play of their team, which gnawed the ball from all corners of the field during the 90 minutes. A football drama that did not become a tragedy at all.

Leaving the area around the stadium. The girl is sad.

– What is your name? Do not be sad!

– Anushik.

– So Anush?

– If you were my age, I would introduce myself as Anush. But you are too old for me, that’s why – Anushik.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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