Armenia head coach Joaquín Caparrós says he would like to see an Armenia-Spain match during the World Cup in Doha, Qatar.
“It would mean having Caucasian teams qualify for the first time in its history,” the Spaniard said in an interview with Marca, which called him “An Armenian from Utrera.”
The team has been unbeaten so far in the qualification round, scoring three consecutive wins against Liechtenstein, Iceland and Romania, and sits on top of Group J.
According to Marca, this is the story of a 65-year-old native of Utrera who has become an idol for a country shaken by the pandemic and by war.
“I had a two-and-a-half-year contract at Sevilla,” recalls Joaquín. “Ginés Meléndez, who had been my teacher in Albacete and is now technical director of the Armenian Federation, got in touch with me. We met with the president in Madrid, on February 14, and there was a feeling. I said to Luci [Martín], who has been working with me for 18 years: “I liked it.” Even those close to me were surprised that I accepted, but it was a new challenge and I was not wrong. I am enjoying it, because we have created a good group, too. with Javier Miñano and Pablo Llanes and with the technicians there.”
The agreement was made public on March 10, Caparrós traveled to Yerevan on the 12th … and in Spain the state of emergency was announced on the 13th. The virus was taking over the planet: “When we arrived, the situation was already very complicated. There was no other option but to turn back.”
Caparrós admits that he had signed without knowing the Armenian footballers: “Only Mkhitaryan, who is in Roma.”
It was time to settle. More than 5,500 kilometers from Seville. “The facilities of the Federation are spectacular. Ten football fields, well cared for, two of them with artificial grass, gym, residence that is a four or five star hotel, dining room, swimming pool … I have a room there, but I live in the center of Yerevan. At 9:30 in the morning the driver and translator come to pick us up. I have adapted very well, although we have not been able to do much tourism due to the situation. It is an open city, with a lot of Russian influence, in which more than a million people live, with a very good cuisine and good wine,” Caparrós says.
“I know little about the local language, because it is extremely complicated. I have a magnificent translator. Armenian, Russian, English and Spanish are spoken in the national team, but the non-verbal language, if it is sincere, it tells you many times more than the verbal one. Being lucky with the results also strengthens the message even more. We have lived emotional moments, we have cried … we are a strong group with our shortcomings, because we are also aware of them. The football here, regardless of the game, has a force of mental, emotional, patriotic power … players have the chance to make their country smile.”