- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 March 28, 2003 

Sports: Armenia hosts Northern Ireland in Group 6 battle

The Northern Irish visit Armenia Saturday.News of the retreat of the Irish has been greatly exaggerated.

Last week ArmeniaNow cited a Russian Internet journal as reporting that Northern Ireland's national football team had cancelled its match with Armenia, due to the war in Iraq.

Not so. The Irish arrived last night and will face Armenia Saturday at Republican Stadium in a EURO-2004 qualifying match.

It will be each side's third match in Group 6, which also includes Spain, Ukraine and Greece.

Both enter the contest with 0-1-1 records.

Armenia holds 4th place in the group, with the Irish on the bottom, having managed no goals in either of its matches (while Armenia has scored two).

A victory (good for 3 points) for either Armenia or Northern Ireland would push the winner past Greece into the group's third spot.

Despite its record the Irish team is tough as it includes footballers from such clubs as Manchester United FC, Fulham FC, Sunderland AFC, Newcastle FC and others.

The Irish, according to, have lost two players. The site reports that George McCartney (Sunderland) and Kevin Horlock (Manchester City) have withdrawn from games against Armenia and Greece for personal reasons.

Saturday's match will be the first for Armenia's new coach Mihai Stoichita of Romania, who signed a three-year contract following the departure in January of Oscar Lopez. Like Lopez, Stoichita will also be coaching Pyunic FC.

Stoichita is a former coach of the Panamanian national side, PFC Litex Lovech, FC Dinamo Bucuresti, FC National Bucuresti, FC Steaua Bucuresti, Ankaragucu and FC Sheriff Tiraspol.

Armenia's next match will be (away) against Spain on April 2.

Also on Saturday Ukraine will face Spain, the favored team of Group 6.

Group 6 Games Played Win Draw Loss Goals Scored Goals Against Points
Spain 2 2 0 0 5 0 6
Ukraine 3 1 2 0 4 2 5
Greece 3 1 0 2 2 4 3
Armenia 2 0 1 1 2 4 1
N. Ireland 2 0 1 1 0 3 1


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  Photo of the week
Click on the photo above to enlarge


At today's Under-21 football match between Armenia and Northern Ireland, played in Abovian, the match had to be delayed for nearly an hour while workers cleared the pitch of snow. When the field was cleared, the home team played to a 2-0 victory.



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