Welcoming Basel at the Vazgen Sargsyan, Yerevan
“Arguably, the biggest game ever for Pyunik Yerevan. They have the chance to go to the Group Stages of the Champions League for the first time, their best ever chance to get there. The financial rewards that they will gain, the CoEfficient points that will help Armenia, the reputation that they will gain, as the first club from Armenia in history to reach there. Defeating Swiss Champions Basel would finish off the icing on a beautiful cake. I, Hamoudi Fayad, am the current manager of Pyunik Yerevan. I have put my heart in for every single game at this club. I have developed this club into one of the revelations of the Qualifying Rounds in Europe, reaching the UEL Group Stages a handful of times in the past few seasons, although never progressing, a 3rd place finish being their best. If we don’t win this game, we will go to the UEFA Europa League Group Stages again. I think we can do it, I will focus, I want to do it, and we can do it. Hopefully, we will do it. The biggest game for every single player at this club today, let us take that step. This step can define our future, let’s do it lads!”
19:45 AMT, The Pre-Match Rituals Begin
“Around 15,000 people are here to watch us today, so let us make them proud. Our biggest ever game, come on lads. “yekek’ dardznel P’yunik yerkrpagunery hpart!” (Let us make the Pyunik fans proud!)”
Marcos Pinheiro Pizzelli
Mkrtich ‘Mkrtii’ Nalbandyan
“Remember lads, play the ball through the ground, avoid crossing the ball at all times, they are very good up in the air.”
“From minute 1, I knew we could do it. I stood, looking at my papers, telling my assistant Artashes to keep getting me info on the team. I wanted this so badly. I really did. I hope my boys can do me proud. A few minutes passed, as I told my boys to look for the pass rather than the cross, H Hambardzumyan took a corner, Gael Andonian looked like he was going to head it but it was cleared out. Bummer... a few seconds passed, I hear a whistle. Was it from the crowd? No, it was a penalty! I jumped up, ecstatic, waiting for Mkrtii to take the penalty.
He stepped up, and scored. Clean finish, typical, 1-0 for us. I screamed at the boys to get another one, we needed this.
The weather was cold, I was wearing a suit with a jacket, it was dry, but around 18 Degrees Celsius, cold enough for me.”
“As we moved on, around 20 minutes later, I wasn’t focusing, something happened between Ildar and a Basel defender. We were awarded a penalty, “that’s how I like it”, I whispered to myself. We could make this 2-0, and lead on away goals... Come on Mkrtii... YES! 2-0! A legend for us can do this for us single-handedly.
“5 minutes passed and somehow I was sweating, I took my jacket off, then that second a small deflection led to us conceding. Bullshit, 2-1, they got an away goal.
Why does this have to happen. “Come on boys, back to basics. Go for goal!”, I yelled.”
“The First half was over. A 2-1 lead, I assured the boys that they were doing good, and just that they need that goal.”
“The Second Half started, we can do it.”
“We hit the hour mark... what is going on now, the game went from edge-of-your-chair to boring. Come on boys...”
“There are 3 minutes left guys, we need a counter-attack from this free-kick, mark him! No! It’s over. 2-2. They’ve gone through, we haven’t.
“Game Over, I walk around the pitch, clapping the Pyunik fans, and congratulating Basel’s manager, they deserved it. He’s a really nice chap, Murat Yakin... that name... where did it come up... Ah! Hakan Yakin, the Swiss-Turkish footballer. I remember watching him at the Euro’s in 2008, so inspirational, and now I have met his brother. A final round of applause by the Pyunik fans, as we now travel to Nyon, Switzerland to the UEFA Headquarters, to see our fate in the Europa League Group Stages. We should’ve just stayed in Basel, no need for a flight now.”
UEFA Headquarters, Nyon, Switzerland
“We were in the 4th seed, waiting for our name to come up. Schalke, Tottenham, Liverpool and At.Madrid are the biggest teams to have been drawn already. Now the 4th seeds:
... Group A - Metalist Kharkiv
… Group D - SK Sturm Graz
… Group F - Pyunik Yerevan...
Pyunik Yerevan along with... Club Brugge (3rd in the Pro League last season)
St-Etienne (3rd in the Ligue 1 last season)
and... Tottenham, again. (6th in the BPL last season)
“A very tough group. Points from Brugge are the best we can hope for, but there is always luck in the pot.”