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Armenian women’s national team secures historic victory

The Armenia women’s national soccer team just scored its most significant result in recent memory – more than 13 years to be exact.

Armenia secured a 3-2 away victory against Bulgaria in the UEFA women’s Euro 2025 qualifiers after Ani Safaryan netted a 91st minute winner in Sofia. This win marks the national team’s first since June 12, 2021 when they beat Kazakhstan 2-1 in a friendly match.
Armenia’s last win in a UEFA qualification tournament was over 13 years ago when the women’s side earned a 1-0 win over Faroe Islands on March 3, 2011. Gayane Kostanyan was the lone goal scorer.
The game started with Armenia finding control and the eventual advantage before halftime thanks to Lara Kazandjian’s 43rd minute goal. 17-year-old Maneh Nersesyan assisted the game’s opener to give Armenia a 1-0 halftime lead.
In the early goings of the second half, Armenia doubled its advantage with a 49th minute goal from Veronika Asatryan, which was assisted by national team captain Maral Artin. Armenia looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory in its second Euro 2025 qualifier after dropping its first game to Romania 0-5.
“So after the 1-0 we just said we need to keep going, and we believed we can! We scored 2-0, and we knew we will step out of this field as a winner,” Artin told the Weekly.
But the match was far from over.
Bulgaria found its second wind and powered its way to a consolation goal in the 62nd minute from Polina Rasina before a penalty was awarded to the home side. Evdokiya Popadinova tucked in a penalty kick in the 85th minute to tie up the contest at 2-2.
“Even though they scored 2-2, until the last minute, we screamed at each other on the field, ‘This is our game, we are going to win, we are going to win,’” Artin said.
With the match winding down and added time commencing, Armenia found a way to net a game-winning goal in the 91st minute thanks to 18-year-old Safaryan.
“When I received that ball, I honestly wasn’t thinking. I think that’s when the magic happens – when you just play. I was in disbelief when I saw the ball in the back of the net. My friends joked that I need to improve my celebration,” match-winner Safaryan said to the Weekly.
Safaryan found herself on the left side of the pitch where two Bulgarian defenders were closing her down. She showed resilience, cutting inside the penalty box on her right foot and finishing a sweet goal in the bottom right hand corner.
“It was really a team effort though, so naturally I just had to hug everyone nearby. It was a really emotional experience. No one really believed in us. Everyone expected we would lose another game. But we wanted this bad, and we got it. Beyond proud of this team,” Safaryan said.
Asatryan tallied an assist on that goal, giving her two goal contributions that night.
“I am so incredibly proud of this team and proud to represent Armenia. This win means so much to all of us! We left it all on the field today,” goalscorer Kazandjian told the Weekly.
The full-time whistle sounded, and the celebrations ensued. Multiple national team players took to social media to post photos and videos from their locker room celebrations.
“We were just proud of ourselves. Every single person today in our team believed we can! We just felt pride. On the tribune there were a few Armenians. We just screamed Hayastan, and a lot of girls cried. This is the big step we needed, and we will continue,” Artin said.
Nersesyan and Safaryan are Armenian-Americans who are part of the young crop of talent rising to the senior national team. In 2022, both players led the Armenian U17 women’s team to its first-ever win in a 3-0 result against Georgia. Nersesyan notched two goals and one assist in that match.
Those same young women have now left their mark on the senior squad in defeating Bulgaria, with Nersesyan tallying an assist in 97 minutes played and Safaryan grabbing the match-winning goal off the bench.
“Unbelievable emotions and pride representing our entire nation,” Nersesyan told the Weekly. “I think some of the pictures from IG (Instagram) from our locker room say it all.”
“Me as a captain, I am proud of every single player in our team, bench or starting 11, because I know how hard we fought for this win! We deserved it earlier, but today was the perfect day. It couldn’t be better than a big game like this, 2-3 against a really good team,” Artin said.
Armenia now shifts its focus to the next set of qualification matches. The road to Switzerland will see the national team take on Kazakhstan at home on May 31 and away from home on June 4.
Jason Takhtadjian

Armenian Weekly

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