No celebration as newly relegated Tirana claim Albania Cup

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 1, 2017 09:24

No celebration as newly relegated Tirana claim Albania Cup

TIRANA, June 1 – An extra time double by Congolese striker Merveil earned Tirana the Albanian Cup trophy and a ticket to the UEFA Europa League qualification campaign in an irony of fate encounter with Skenderbeu after the country’s most successful club suffered their first-ever relegation after about a century in the top flight of Albanian football.

There was no celebration by players and fans who consider the relegation a shame that cannot be compensated by any trophy.

Regular time ended 1-1 with Skenderbeu’s Croatian defender Marko Radas scoring a late equalizer, temporarily waning hopes for the record 24-times Superliga champions not to end the season in full disgrace.

For Albania, this will be the first time a team not in the top flight represents the country in European competition, giving Tirana a boost to somehow overcome their financial problems due to Cup and UEFA participation rewards.

The final also saw the participation of the “Tirona Fanatics” supporters who broke their three-month boycott to support their team but also protest against the club’s president Refik Halili and the municipality of Tirana, the minority shareholder, whom they blame for the club’s mismanagement.

The victory makes Tirana the most successful club in Albania Cup campaigns, with 16 trophes, overtaking arch-rivals Partizani who have been trophyless since more than a decade but are looking for a comeback as they finished second in the past two Superliga seasons.

Korça-based Skenderbeu had nothing to lose in the Cup Final as they finished third this season, securing the UEFA Europa League participation, but ending the domination of Albanian football after six straight Superliga titles.

Skenderbeu now face the threat of new punishment by Albania’s football association after European football governing body, UEFA, banned them from European competition this year on match-fixing allegations. There have been rumors Skenderbeu could be relegated on domestic match-fixing allegations, paving the way for Tirana’s return to the Superliga, but the chances of this worst-case scenario materializing remain unknown.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 1, 2017 09:24