Albania’s best striker not shining yet in Poland

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 14, 2017 11:14

Albania’s best striker not shining yet in Poland

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  • “Coach Panucci has introduced a new spirit and the team plays with a more offensive line-up and an extra attacker compared to De Biasi. I believe that has helped the team and the new players who have been called up and I think that is something positive,” says Armando Sadiku

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TIRANA, Dec. 14 – Albania’s most powerful striker of the moment Armando Sadiku says he is happy with Legia Warsaw in Poland despite not being a first attacking choice in the past couple of months and is not thinking of moving to a new club without proving his quality.

“It’s the coach’s choice and I have to accept it. However, I am waiting for my chance so that I can do my best on the pitch,” Sadiku has told an Albanian sports portal.

The 26-year-old striker who has scored 11 goals with the national side helping Albania achieve a first-ever qualification in a major tournament such as Euro 2016 moved to Legia Warsaw, one Poland’s most successful clubs, last summer on a three-year contract following a six-year spell in Switzerland.

Sadiku, who during the past few weeks has been fielded as a second-half substitute for Polish striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda, has so far played 24 games for Legia since joining last July but scored only seven goals, four of which in the Polish Cup, one in the Champions League qualifying campaign and only two in 16 Polish league appearances.

The player says there is no flaw with Croatian coach Romeo Jozak and he is right to keep the same line-up as long as the team is doing well.

“I have to admit that there is no flaw with coach Romeo Jozak and relations are very good. Of course, it is difficult for me to accept being on the bench considering that I still have to prove my quality as I have done with the national side,” says Sadiku.

In last November’s friendly away to Turkey, Armando Sadiku scored a double to help 10-man Albania claim a surprise victory and increase his goal tally to 11. Last June, he also scored a brace as Albania avenged Israel’s first-leg home defeat with a 3-0 away victory.

Sadiku also scored Albania’s sole goal in the Euro 2016 group stage games as Albania beat Romania 1-0 but failed to make it the knockout stage.

Having started his career in his hometown of Elbasan, central Albania, Sadiku played in Switzerland for six years with clubs such as Zurich and Lugano before joining Legia.

“Legia is one of Poland’s greatest clubs and the best organized I have to admit. That’s why I made my choice without thinking twice. When I first came, it was a surprise for me as I had never played in front of such fiery supporters. But we are having a good moment and the fans have calmed down. It is a great club and the biggest weekend entertainment in town,” Sadiku says.

With 20 games played, Poland’s reigning champions Legia Warsaw have a 2-point lead over second placed Gornik Zabrze and Jagiellonia and are considered favorites to win the Ekstraklasa, Poland’s top league, for a third straight season.

“I feel well and have had no difficulty, but now I have to show a little patience in order to play more minutes. I don’t want to leave Legia without showing what I am able to do,” he adds.

Speaking about Albania’s national side under coach Christian Panucci, Sadiku says Albania is doing well and becoming more offensive compared to the Gianni De Biasi era.

“I am very confident. We showed what we can do in the match with Turkey when we played a very good game and proved we have grown up as team and that every gathering is useful,” says Sadiku.

The Turkey friendly, which Albania won 3-2 was one of the few Albania can play ahead of the late 2018 maiden UEFA Nations League and the European qualifiers.

“The situation seems to be getting better and we are becoming a compact team. Coach Panucci has introduced a new spirit and the team plays with a more offensive line-up and an extra attacker compared to De Biasi. I believe that has helped the team and the new players who have been called up and I think that is something positive. I am looking forward to the qualifiers, but we first have to learn about our opponents in the draw and then think of each match,” he says.

Albania has been lined up in League C of the maiden UEFA Nations League, a tournament that largely replaces friendlies but which will also play a major part in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign by deciding the final four places via play-offs.

The national side failed to make it to the Russia 2018 World Cup after finishing third in a tough group stage that also featured former world champions Spain and Italy, the latter failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades after losing a play-off with Sweden.

A former AC Milan, Real Madrid defender whose Albania job is his first experience as a national side manager, coach Christian Panucci has claimed two victories against Liechtenstein and Turkey but lost key qualifiers against Spain and Italy since succeeding Gianni De Biasi last July. Italian veteran quit after a successful five and a half-year spell in charge of the Red and Blacks after managing to take Albania to the Euro 2016 and failing to make another surprise qualification for the World Cup.

His successor Christian Panucci has been tasked with qualifying Albania for the Euro 2020 in what would be a second appearance at a major tournament for the national side.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 14, 2017 11:14