Pressure mounts on coach Panucci as Albania suffer new humiliating defeat

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 30, 2018 10:28

Pressure mounts on coach Panucci as Albania suffer new humiliating defeat

TIRANA, May 30 – Albania’s national side suffered a humiliating defeat against Kosovo this week in similar style to last March’s Norway loss, triggering fury among fans and sports experts who are now questioning Christian Panucci’s ability to lead Albania following the historic Gianni De Biasi era when Albania made their debut European championship appearance.

In an all-Albanian derby played in Switzerland, Albania was thrashed 3-0 by Kosovo, a national side that concluded their debut World Cup qualifiers with only one point from an away draw with Finland following their 2016 FIFA admission.

With several key players left out, the friendly against Kosovo was supposed to be a test for new players, but Albania’s first real shot on target came only nine minutes before regular time at a time when Kosovo was comfortably leading the game 3-0.

The last time Albania was beaten 3-0 was in October 2017 in an away World Cup qualifier with former world champions Spain.

In last March’s home friendly against Norway, Albania failed to have a single shot on target putting coach Panucci, who has been in charge of Albania since mid-2017, under fire over his tactics.

While Panucci assumed responsibility for the defeat, he also blamed players for not showing enough motivation and pledged fans will no longer see ‘such ugly games.’

Astrit Hafizi, a former Albania coach says Punucci has destroyed the defensive playing style he found in Albania and has no clear ideas about the attacking football he intends to apply.

Football commentator Dritan Shakohoxha described Albania’s game as a catastrophe, saying “I don’t know whether Panucci is building a new team or destroying what De Biasi had built.”

Panucci’s new chance to show things in the national side are not as bad as they look is the upcoming June 3  friendly against Ukraine, a much tougher national side whom Albania have only managed to get a draw and lost four times in World Cup qualifiers and friendlies in the past two decades.

The two friendlies are considered key ahead of next September’s start of the Nations League campaign against Israel and Scotland and the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers

A former Italian Real Madrid and AC Milan defender with not much coaching experience, Panucci has been in charge of Albania since mid-2017 succeeding compatriot Gianni De Biasi. The 45-year-old has lost four out of his seven games with Albania including World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Italy and friendlies with Norway and Kosovo.

Panucci managed to win with modest Liechtenstein and draw with Macedonia in World Cup qualifiers.

His best game in Albania’s lead was last November when the national side surprised Turkey with an away 3-2 victory as they played in 10 men for most of the time.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 30, 2018 10:28