Albania U-21s beat Hungary to keep Euro qualification hopes alive

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 29, 2016 10:55

AlbTIRANA, March 29 – Albania’s U-21 came from one goal behind to claim a 2-1 home victory against Hungary on Monday night, keeping their Euro 2017 qualification hopes alive.

Inter forward Rey Manaj scored the equalizer before defender Herdi Prenga’s winner in the 79th minute after a goalless first half.

U-21 coach Redi Jupi praised the team’s performance and their reaction following the conceded goal.

“This team is worth it and can achieve a lot but they need time. I think we are now in the right direction,” said Jupi, a former playmaker and Albanian international.

Albania U-21 currently rank second in Group 4 of the Euro 2017 qualifiers, six points behind leaders Portugal and one point ahead of Israel both of which have two games in hand.

The victory against Hungary on Monday night came few days after the U-21s were held to a goalless draw by Greece in the Elbasan Arena stadium.

Albania’s last two qualifiers will be away to Greece in Sept. 2 and Israel in Oct. 10.

While Portugal are on track for a direct qualification, Albania can hope for a second-place which would secure the team a historic play-off only if they get at least four points in the last two qualifiers as opponents already have one or two games in hand.

Meanwhile, Albania’s national team suffered a 2-1 defeat in their Euro 2016 warm-up friendly against Austria last weekend following two first-half defensive blunders but considerably improved in the second half when Nantes midfielder Lenjani narrowed the hosts lead to 2-1.

Albania will take on modest Luxembourg on March 29 in their second warm-up friendly which coach Gianni De Biasi will use to test new players that could be called up in the country’s first ever participation in a major football competition such as the Euro 2016 in France.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 29, 2016 10:55