De Biasi under fire following national side’s fourth consecutive loss
TIRANA, March 29 – Albania’s coach Gianni De Biasi has come under fire to prematurely end his Albania contract due to expire in late 2017 following the national sides fourth consecutive loss, including three World Cup qualifiers and a friendly, a losing streak Albania had not been suffering since more than a decade ago.
Having led Albania for the past five years and managing to take it to a first ever major competition such as the Euro 2016, the national side led by De Biasi has left much to be desired following the impressive Euro 2016 debut when Albania was unlucky to make it to the knockout stage as one of the best third-placed sides, punished by its goal difference. The national side lost to hosts France and Switzerland but beat Romania 1-0 in their group stage, in impressive performances that led to a heroes’ welcome upon their arrival in Tirana.
The Euro 2016 euphoria and over-confidence seem to be still present in the national side whose success peaked in mid-2016.
The World Cup qualifying campaign started pretty well with a tough injury-time win against Macedonia in a postponed match and an easy win over minnows Liechtenstein. The following tests for Albania proved disastrous with Spain, Israel and Italy all getting easy wins in their qualifiers with Albania who conceded seven goals and failed to score even a single goal, bidding adieu to its qualifying campaign almost halfway through the group stage matches.
To make matters worse, the national side also suffered a 2-1 home loss against Bosnia and Herzegovina this week to register its fourth consecutive loss, a losing streak it had not experienced since 2005 when it was led by German Hans-Peter Briegel.
“It is true that we suffered four consecutive losses. I think people who can understand should know that Albania’s win would be the right result, this because of the absences we had and the team’s performance. Friendlies also serve to test new players. We would be losing time if we didn’t test candidate players for the near future,” De Biasi told reporters after the Bosnia friendly, justifying the fourth consecutive loss.
Although Football Association President Armand Duka has made it clear De Biasi will remain with the national side until the end of the year when a possible renewal could be made, the association’s secretary general has hinted next June’s away qualifier with Israel could prove decisive for De Biasi.
“We hope we will not lose against Israel and get a positive result. We have no differences with Israel despite the progress of the game in Elbasan. If the contract is terminated amicably, that’s something else,” says Ilir Shulku, the secretary general at Albania’s Football Association.
Down to nine men, Albania lost 3-0 in its home qualifier against Israel last November in a match played under extremely tight security measures over fears of a possible terrorist attack, irritating the Red & Black fans who have since boycotted the national side’s matches, claiming unfair treatment by police forces.
Fatbardh Jera, a member of the football association’s executive committee, says the end of the World Cup qualifiers could be the end of De Biasi’s era at the national side.
“De Biasi is under contract until the end of the campaign. However, this could also be the end of his era. Of course, he could leave at the end of the campaign,” Jera has said.
The 60-year-old former Torino and Udinese club coach was also rumored to take over Italy following the Euro 2016 campaign and has not hidden his ambition to train a big national side.
De Biasi also has Albanian citizenship and was recently awarded an order of merit by the Italian president for promoting football and friendly relations between the two neighbouring countries.