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Thursday 23 February 2012

Canada v Armenia – International Friendly & Drinks

    Canada will be announcing the roster head coach Stephen Hart has assembled for the match in Cyprus versus Armenia on February 29th this afternoon at 3 pm as Canada begins to warm-up for the next round of Concacaf qualifying due to start in June.

    It should be a good test for what is expected to be a largely European-based selection of Canadians as recent results saw Armenia finish third – behind Russia and Ireland – in a difficult qualifying group for Euro 2012, which included 2010 World Cup participants Slovakia; somewhat disappointingly considering they were expected to be an outside contender for an appearance at the final tournament.

    The announced Armenian roster includes the Shaktar Donetsk midfielder Henrikh Mikhitaryan who played so well for the Ukrainians in recent European campaigns, as well as captain, defender and all-time caps leader Sargis Hovsepyan of Pyunik and regular first-choice keeper Roman Berezovsky of Dinamo Moscow; though their strength comes from an entire team effort as noted by Mikhitaryan in the Jonathan Wilson piece linked above. Keep an eye out for Aras Özbiliz of Ajax and former Real Salt Lake striker Yura Movsisyan, now plying his trade in Russia with FC Krasnodar

    Nine players in the squad come from FC Pyunik, regular Armenian Premier League (APL) champions - having only just relinquished a run of ten straight titles dating back to 2001 this past season.

    As always when a national team is comprised of such a familiar group, expect a tight-knit unit. Though it should be noted that the APL is a summer league, so a good number of the side are out of season and from all accounts the Armenians will be playing Serbia in the same stadium the day prior, so an experimental side with an eye toward blooding youngsters in preparation for World Cup 2014 qualifying which begins later in the year.

NB: The match will kick-off at 11:30 am and fortunately a broadcast has been arranged by Rogers Sportsnet. Provided it will be available - at the pub - I’ll be watching the match at The Duke, should anyone wish to join, by all means do so; everyone is welcome.

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