Rivalry heats up ahead of Partizani-Tirana derby

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 22, 2016 10:41

Rivalry heats up ahead of Partizani-Tirana derby

TIRANA, Sept. 22 – Superliga runners-up Partizani will face Tirana this weekend in a special derby that for the first time is played outside Tirana at the Elbasan Arena stadium as the national stadium in Tirana has been demolished to pave the way for a new National Arena.

Partizani come to this 145th Superliga derby in top form after playing one of their best seasons last year when they finished second but were given a chance to play in the Champions League qualification campaign after sixth straights Superliga winners Skenderbeu were banned from European competition for one year on match fixing allegations. Partizani who have been trophyless for the past two decades advanced to the Champions League third qualifying round but lost to Austrian champions Salzburg and also missed a golden opportunity to make it to the Europa League stage group against Russia’s Krasnodar.

Meanwhile, Tirana return to the derby after some lackluster seasons since they last won the Superliga title in 2009.

Rivalry between the two capital city teams is tough with violence often marring the derby as was the case of last May’s 2-2 encounter.

Partizani, who have made a good start this season, trailing leaders Skenderbeu by two points in the first three matches, come confident following an away victory against Teuta in Durres last week.

“I think the derby is special and we should enter the match to play our game. It’s a match that sparks a lot of interest by fans but I’m only interested in preparing the game to get the three points no matter who the opponent is,” says Partizani’s Italian coach Adolfo Sormani.

On the other side, Tirana are hopeful to get their first three points following three consecutive draws in the opening matches, including 2-2 draw against direct rivals Kukes in their last match.

“I am fully confident in you, both for the individual qualities and the team spirit. Against Kukes we showed dignity. I believe we can still make it to the top ranking,” Tirana coach Ilir Daja has told players.

Last May, Partizani was held to a 2-2 draw by Tirana in a tense derby marred by violence between technical staffs and fans.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 22, 2016 10:41