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Our rival: Frequent participation in European Cups and a championship period in the USSR

Pyunik continues the training camp and holds friendly matches with the leading teams of different countries.

Our upcoming rival is Zarya, representing Ukraine, which has a history of 101 years. The team representing Luhansk regularly participates in the European Cups, competing in the group stages as well. One of the main achievements in the club's history took place in the last century, when the team won the Premier League of the Soviet Union.

Our press service has studied all the important events related to Zarya: how football appeared in Luhansk, who led the team to the heights in the Soviet years and how it still keeps good traditions, achieving success both in Ukraine and abroad.

The first signs of football in Luhansk

Zarya was founded in 1923 and is considered one of the oldest clubs in Ukraine. During the Soviet period, the Luhansk press actively highlighted the origins of football in the city. According to studies, people started playing football in Luhansk in 1908, when young people formed groups and held football trainings at the locomotive factory.

Then, on August 20, 1917, the first football match was held in the city. The players were awarded souvenirs, which are kept in the city museum till today.

Creation, official tournaments and furore in the USSR championships

In the middle of the 20th century, clubs regularly changed their names, and our upcoming opponent had that "custom" too. First Metalist, then Dzerzhinets. The Ukrainian club initially participated in the regional tournaments and only in 1939 made its debut in the second strongest league of the Soviet Union.

In the Soviet Union, Zarya became famous winning the third strongest league of the USSR, then it shone in the second league, becoming a two-time champion.
Unlike our other rivals, Zarya got the most impressive achievement of its history in the last century, an achievement that is a serious visir card to be considered a Soviet gient.

In 1972, the Ukrainian team managed to become the champion of the Premier League of the Soviet Union, competing with legendary footballers and the most powerful clubs. They are leaving behind such giants as Dynamo Kyiv and Tbilisi and Ararat Yerevan, which was on the path of historical success.

Two years later, Zarya reached the final of the USSR Cup, but lost to Dynamo Kyiv 0:3. Next year, our rival was close to winning the crystal cup, but that time lost to Ararat, which brought glory to Armenian football, in the decisive game (1:2).

An unexpected twist

After the last silver medal in the Soviet Union Cup, Zarya goes through a period of decline, retreating to the First League (second powerest).

After the collapse of the USSR, in 1992 Zarya began its performances in the Ukrainian Premier League. However, 4 years later, the team left the elite and in 1998, our rival retreated further down to Group B.

Only 7 years later, Zarya reminds about itself and takes the first steps to restore its former reputation. In the 2005/2006 season, they became champions in the Ukrainian First League and returned to the Premier League. We will have time to talk about the legendary specialist who helped the team to return to the race of the strongest.

The first steps in the European Cups

After the 2012/13 season, the Luhansk team received an unexpected gift. Donetsk Metallurg, who was the 6th in the race, was disqualified due to financial violations and conceded its place in the qualifying round of the Europa League to Zarya, which had been chasing them throughout the season.

The club from Luhansk reached the play-offs of the qualifying tournament in their inaugural season in Europe, defeating Laci Albania and Molde Norway on the way. However, Zarya lost to Feyenoord Rotterdam in the decisive match.

The irreconcilable club from Ukraine

The path to the European Cup of our upcoming rival is rich. Zarya has reached the Europa League in 3 different seasons and the group stage of the Conference League twice. In the current season, the Luhansk team also had a fall period in the Eurocups but after coming 3rd, they left the Conference League.

Zarya's highest mark in the Europa League group stages was 6 points, which they earned competing against Manchester United, Athletic Bilbao, Feyenoord, Leicester and many other strong teams.

It is interesting that Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the alumnus of our club, who then became the winner of the Europa League that season, scored his first goal for Manchester United against Zarya.

Our team's head coach Yeghishe Melikyan also played for Zarya during his football career

In the 2009/2010 season. Melikyan scored one goal in 14 games and even managed to meet Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the rising star of Armenian football at that time.

The best from Luhansk

Anatoliy Kuksov played the most matches for the Ukrainian team, playing 517 times. Kuksov is considered one of the most influential figures in the history of the club, who became the champion of the USSR with the team.

The best scorer in the history of the club is Alexander Malyshenko, who scored 174 goals.

One of the forges of Ukrainian football

Our upcoming rival supplies many footballers to youth teams of Ukraine. We should also mention that Eduardo Guerreiro from the current Zarya lineup is invited to the Panama national team, and Kodjo Aziangbe to the Togo national team.

Current lineup

Last season, Artyom Dovbik was the top scorer in the Ukrainian league, followed by Zarya forward Nazariy Rusin with 13 goals. Sergey Buletsa made the most goal assists ( from the Luhansk team last season).

Yuri Koval, born in Dilijan and a member of the Zarya Hall of Fame

Now the team is headed by 65-year-old Yuri Koval, who was 46 years old when he joined the coaching staff of Zarya. It is interesting that Koval was born in Armenia, in the city of Dilijan.

In the 2005/2006 season, Zarya became the champion of the Ukrainian First League thanks to this specialist and returned to the Premier League. Koval has been in the club system for a long time, 14 years already. The Ukrainian likes to use a 4-1-4-1 formation. Zarya puts emphasis on fast play, which is evidenced by the efficiency of the team. Our rival is the 3rd with goals scored in the season.

Zarya didn't have successful competitions in the domestic league in the autumn part of the current season, the main reason was the Conference League. After 14 games, the Luhansk team is in 14th place. During the training camp, our rival played 4 games, celebrated two victories, registered one draw and one loss.

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