Euro 2016: Albania one step away from historic qualification for the knockout stage

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 20, 2016 09:38

Euro 2016: Albania one step away from historic qualification for the knockout stage

TIRANA, June 20 – Albania claimed a historic victory in the Balkan derby with Romania on Sunday night that could see them progress to the knockout stage as one of the best third-placed teams in the group stages in their debut participation in a major tournament.

A first-half header by striker Armando Sadiku gave Albania a much-needed victory to secure a third place in Group A where hosts France and Switzerland have already qualified.

The national side will now have to wait until Wednesday night to learn if they will claim another historic qualification and make history. Having collected only three points and a -2 goal difference, Albania is hopeful other third-placed teams will be drawing and concede goals in order to qualify for the last 16.

The four best third-placed teams are determined based on higher number of points, superior goal difference, higher number of goals scored, disciplinary record in the final tournament and position in the UEFA national team coefficient rankings, according to the UEFA regulation.

Albania’s Italian coach Gianni De Biasi described the final group stage fixture against Romania as a historic achievement and his best night with the Red & Blacks in his four years as Albania’s coach.

“It was the tournament’s best night. We claimed a historic victory that will be remembered by everybody,” said De Biasi, adding that Albania deserved more in the first two fixtures with Switzerland and hosts France.

“We deserved something more both against Switzerland and France but we paid for the pressure of participating in such a great tournament. All Albanian fans must be happy with what the national side showed in these three matches. We showed our performance is up to this tournament. We could have scored with Switzerland and did our best with France. With Romania we played the match we had to and fulfilled our duties,” said De Biasi.

Swiss Super Ligue striker Sadiku was the Albania hero with his winning header just as the first half was closing and paid off De Biasi’s trust in him as a starting attacker in the three group stage fixtures.

“I am very happy about this historic victory. Now we’ll anxiously wait for the other matches to learn our fate,” Sadiku said.

Albania’s victory was marked with celebrations by thousands of fans supporting the national side in France as well as in Albania, Kosovo and the Diaspora.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 20, 2016 09:38