Soccer: Two Matches Remain for Armenia in World Cup Campaign

(Special to The Armenian Weekly)

Armenia’s final two matches of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign are scheduled to be played within a week. Bulgaria visits the Republican Stadium in Yerevan on Fri., Oct. 11, 2013 with their campaign still hanging in the balance and needing the three points. Armenia finishes its own campaign with a visit to Naples on Tues., Oct. 15, to take on an Italian side that has already secured its berth at the World Cup in Brazil. Common sense would suggest that punching a ticket to Brazil is beyond Armenia’s grasp. The much chronicled and maligned home loss suffered to Malta had far-reaching effects that have become clearer with every round of matches played since that fateful night in Yerevan. That loss will remain one of the biggest “what-if” of this campaign.

 

Current Group B Table 

Team

Pld

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

 Italy

8

6

2

0

15

5

+10

20

 Bulgaria

8

3

4

1

13

6

+7

13

 Denmark

8

3

3

2

9

10

-1

12

 Czech Republic

8

2

3

3

8

8

0

9

 Armenia

8

3

0

5

8

10

-2

9

 Malta

8

1

0

7

4

18

−14

3

 

A six-point haul for Armenia from these upcoming matches, along with one or two other fixtures falling in Armenia’s favor, would make things interesting and add to the drama of an already turbulent and unpredictable Group B. In the event that teams accumulate the same number of points after 10 matches, the first tie breaker will be head-to-head match-ups. Armenia holds the tie breaker over Denmark. Anything more than a one-goal victory for Armenia in Yerevan on Friday night will also see Armenia hold the tiebreaker over Bulgaria.

If the Armenians defy the bookmaker’s odds and secure six points from victories over Bulgaria and Italy, they will also require help on two other fronts to advance: Firstly, Italy needs to beat Denmark in Copenhagen. Secondly, Czech Republic and Bulgaria need to play out a draw in their last match. It is assumed that Malta will lose their remaining matches by a two-goal margin, their current “goals against” average. Neither of these two requirements is outlandish in nature, particularly when the previous results in Group B are taken into account. The difficulty lies with Armenia and its ability to take care of its own business. This scenario, albeit wishful, is presented below with accompanying numbers.

 

Hypothetical results for Armenia to advance: 

10/11/13  Armenia

1:0

 Bulgaria
10/11/13  Malta

0:2

 Czech Republic
10/11/13  Denmark

0:1

 Italy
10/15/13  Denmark

2:0

 Malta
10/15/13  Italy

0:1

 Armenia
10/15/13  Bulgaria

0:0

 Czech Republic

 

Hypothetical Group B Table

Team

Pld

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

 Italy

10

7

2

1

16

6

+10

23

 Armenia

10

5

0

5

10

10

0

15

 Denmark

10

4

3

3

11

12

-1

15

 Bulgaria

10

3

5

2

13

7

+6

14

 Czech Republic

10

3

4

3

10

8

2

13

 Malta

10

1

0

9

4

22

−18

3

 

The next campaign will be Euro 2016, which will take place in France and include 24 teams in the finals tournament. This is an increase from the usual 16. Armenia’s target of qualifying for a major tournament will be more attainable with the new format. The first steps along that path will be determined by the qualification draw, which will be held in early 2014 and will be based on UEFA national team coefficients at the completion of the current World Cup qualifying campaign.

The included graphic illustrates Armenia’s continued improvement over the last four years, and shows the Pot number from which they will be drawn based on current coefficients. This will be updated following the Bulgaria and Italy matches. It can be seen that Armenia’s seeding has risen from Pot 5 to Pot 4 since the last campaign. World rankings and UEFA coefficients expert Eduard Ranghiuc suggests that Armenia will remain in Pot 4 regardless of its final two results in Group B.

The graphic illustrates Armenia’s continued improvement over the last four years, and shows the Pot number from which they will be drawn based on current coefficients
The graphic illustrates Armenia’s continued improvement over the last four years, and shows the Pot number from which they will be drawn based on current coefficients

Armenia’s recent performances have not reached the heights of their previous qualifying campaign. If the Armenian team had matched the high standards they set for themselves from Euro 2012 in the current campaign, Ranghiuc had suggested that Pot 3 was an attainable goal. However, even with two wins from its remaining matches, he only suggests a 30.51 percent chance that Armenia ends up being drawn from Pot 3.

UEFA National Team Coefficients

Seeding, rankings, and UEFA coefficients are some preliminary aspects to consider on the road to France 2016 and provide a catalyst for discussion and a metric for setting future goals for the team. Player performances on the field, along with management and the Federation continuing to build and strengthen the Armenian national team program, should remain the areas of focus during the upcoming international off-season, as the Armenians look to continue their advancement on the international stage.

Sources

  1. Eduard Ranghiuc’s Football Ranking Blog, http://www.football-rankings.info
  1. World-Results.Net, International Football Data, http://www.world-results.net
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M.J. Graham

Michael Graham is The Armenian Weekly's soccer correspondent. Born and raised in Limerick, Ireland, Graham graduated from the University of Limerick with a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering. Passionate about soccer, Graham plays in and manages local adult soccer leagues in Massachusetts and is a holder of a U.S. Adult Amateur coaching license. Follow him on Twitter (@mjlgraham).

3 Comments

  1. oh :O that’s a bad news, I didn’t know that which team comes into which pot doesn’t depend on the ranking at the drawing time (in this case februar 2014 if I am not wrong), and I though a draw in Italy would be enough to come into pot 3, so it is like in the champions league where it depends on the rankings of past few years, the same case with Dortmund, last champions league runners-up were drawn in pot 3 while Marseille on 2.. am not sure if this system is far…

  2. Armenia has dug itself a hole, when they lost (an easy win game) to Malta!!

    I wonder what would be Armenia’s ranking in group B, after today’s 2-1 victory over Bulgaria!

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