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The head of Armenian soccer’s governing body has refused to accept the resignation of national team coach Vartan Minasian in the wake of a FIFA World Cup qualifier in which Armenia suffered a crushing defeat from a visiting Czech side.

The Armenian Football Federation (AFF) said on its website today that the coach’s resignation will still become a matter for discussion at a meeting of its executive committee scheduled for Friday. Also on that day AFF President Ruben Hayrapetian plans to hold a press conference presumably focusing on the situation.

The 0-3 defeat in the March 26 match against the Czech Republic in Yerevan left Armenia without realistic chances of competing for a qualifying spot in the six-nation group to go to next year’s Mundial in Brazil.

Armenia -- The 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Armenia and the Czech Republic in Yerevan, 26Mar2013

Armenia -- The 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Armenia and the Czech Republic in Yerevan, 26Mar2013

“And who told you that we were going to Brazil? Have you ever heard me say that? We haven’t set ourselves the task of qualifying,” said coach Minasian at a press conference after the match.

This statement by the 39-year-old manager apparently did not go down well with the soccer fan community as many enthusiasts of the game began to question Minasian’s ability to manage the team that boasts quite a few quality players performing for European clubs.

Henrikh Mkhitarian, one of such soccer talents playing for Ukraine’s top club, Shakhtar Donetsk, stoked further speculation about the current atmosphere in the team by accusing some unnamed partners of lacking enthusiasm when playing for the national side.

“When playing for the national team one has to give his best rather than show off,” said the 24-year-old midfielder in an interview with the leading Russian sport publication, Sport-Express, on Wednesday.

Minasian confirmed to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) that he had tendered in a letter of resignation, but refused to speak about reasons for the move immediately. He said he would do so later on.

The former soccer player had some brief experience as caretaker manager with Armenia before being appointed as its head coach in 2010, a few months before the start of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

Under Minasian the team mostly comprised of young players did surprisingly well in the season, beating several European stalwarts and nearly earning the right to compete for a spot in the continent’s championship finals.

In the current qualifying campaign, however, Minasian’s side has seen a reversal of fortune, suffering three straight defeats after a narrow victory over a bottom-of-the-barrel Malta in the opening match.
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