National team makes history with Euro 2016 qualification

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 16, 2015 10:44

National team makes history with Euro 2016 qualification

Story Highlights

  • The victory secured Albania second place in Group I, behind already qualified Portugal, and a secured spot at Euro 2016 in France. Denmark finished third and will have to go through a playoff to qualify
  • Albania players jumped up and down and hugged each other after the final whistle, with captain Lorik Cana crying as he celebrated with teammates.

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team celebs2TIRANA, Oct. 12 – The Albanian national football team has reached its first senior final tournament after a dominant away success in Yerevan secured second place in Group I.

Needing an away success to overtake Denmark in the section’s second automatic qualifying berth, Albania took control of the fixture thanks to Kamo Hovhannisyan’s ninth-minute own goal and Berat Gjimshiti’s deflected set piece on 23 minutes. Substitute Armando Sadiku finished off a fine move 14 minutes before time to seal the result.

The victory secured Albania second place in Group I, behind already qualified Portugal, and a secured spot at Euro 2016 in France. Denmark finished third and will have to go through a playoff to qualify.

Albania players jumped up and down and hugged each other after the final whistle, with captain Lorik Cana crying as he celebrated with teammates.

“I can’t find the words to describe the happiness,” Cana said. “When I joined the Albanian national team 12-13 years ago I had so little hope I could achieve such a thing one day.”

The win set off massive celebrations in central Tirana, with thousands of Albanians gathering in the city’s main Skanderbeg Square, honking their car horns and setting off fireworks.

“The impossible dream turned into a reality!” Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on Twitter.

Albania did not concede a goal in its last four away matches.

Thousands of Albanians are challenging the heavy rain celebrating at its main Skanderbeg Square and Martyrs of the Nation boulevard downtown the capital.

team celebs3With cars covered from national red-and-black flags and horns loud they come around the main streets until they blocked the traffic.

That is a historic achievement for the tiny Western Balkan country.

It was led by an Italian coach, Giovanni de Biasi, who also received the Albanian passport earlier this year.

De Biasi tried some 85 players during his last four years with Albania, them usually playing abroad if from Albania proper, or also ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, Macedonia, and southern Serbian province of Presevo.

His contract is automatically renewed, and he hinted in his interviews after the match that he may ask for some more payment.

Armand Duka, president of the Albanian Football Federation, or FSHF, said, “It was the fruit of the joint work of everyone. That was a historic qualification, achieved away with a fantastic result. We believed and we did it.”

De Biasi added, “It was not easy, especially after the loss with Serbia as players were so much pressed. I wish Albania grows up with these players as the example. It is the work of the whole team. That is the greatest pleasure of my life because I had to represent a whole population.”

“I can’t find the words to describe the happiness. When I joined the Albanian national team 12-13 years ago I had so little hope I could achieve such a thing one day. We shall not go to France for a walk, but to aim passing the group. We shall go there with our head high and to say our word,” said Cana, adding the  national team represents all ethnic Albanians — Cana is a Kosovar himself.

“This group of players is the first generation with players coming from all the territories where Albanians live. This is the first time that the Albanian nation is represented as a whole with a real representation. The Albanian nation has a national team of the whole nation. This victory is for every Albanian,” Cana said.

Same celebrations were also held in Prishtina, with people gathered downtown with flags and fireworks

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 16, 2015 10:44