Irritated Albania fans want De Biasi back as Albania suffer third loss in a row

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 6, 2018 18:04

Irritated Albania fans want De Biasi back as Albania suffer third loss in a row

Story Highlights

  • In a friendly played at a small stadium in France’s Evian, Albania lost 4-1 with Ukraine on June 3 in similar style to the earlier 3-0 defeat against Kosovo although Panucci had promised a turning point, further irritating fans and football experts who predict Panucci’s future with the national side could end up as soon as the end of this year if Albania also disappoint at the Nations League campaign against Scotland and Israel.

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TIRANA, June 6 – Albania’s coach Christian Panucci was forced to abandon a post-match TV interview as Albania suffered their third humiliating defeat in a row for this year, this time in a friendly against Ukraine and angry fans called on him to step down and chanted the name of Gianni De Biasi, Panucci’s predecessor who led Albania to a historic European Championship debut in 2016.

In a friendly played at a small stadium in France’s Evian, Albania lost 4-1 with Ukraine on June 3 in similar style to the earlier 3-0 defeat against Kosovo although Panucci had promised a turning point, further irritating fans and football experts who predict Panucci’s future with the national side could end up as soon as the end of this year if Albania also disappoint at the Nations League campaign against Scotland and Israel.

Speaking at a later interview, the former Real Madrid and AC Milan defender who has been in charge of Albania since mid-2018 , shrugged off some responsibility saying the ‘fire in the national side has waned and players ran out of fuel.”

The two friendlies against Kosovo and Ukraine were supposed to serve as key tests for Panucci ahead of next September’s start of the National League campaign with Panucci having called up several new players and left out key players of the De Biasi era either because of being sidelined by their European clubs for most of the season or being considered ‘too old’ for the national side now.

Earlier this year, Albania also lost 1-0 in a home friendly with Norway, showing the first signals of their free fall as the national side failed to have a single shot on target.

In the first three friendlies of this year, Albania conceded 8 goals and scored only 1, in one of its poorest performances on record with terrible defensive blunders and a midfield that is not working.

Armand Duka, the president of Albania’s football association, has defended his choice saying “Panucci should be given more time and that he is confident Albania will change next September.”

Veteran De Biasi, who led Albania for five and a half years before stepping down in mid-2017, has also backed Panucci saying that “tests are a positive thing to make changes before official competitions, but the national side has to make better use of experience.”

However, three consecutive losses and failed tests for this year are expected to have a negative psychological effect on the national side next September during the Nations League campaign and call into question Panucci’s ability to lead and motivate the national side, which turned into Albania’s pride following their historic Euro 2016 campaign.

The 45-year-old Italian with not much coaching experience has lost five out of his eight games with Albania since taking over in mid-2017 including World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Italy and friendlies with Norway, Kosovo and Ukraine.

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.

In his two-and-a-half year contract, Panucci has been set a Euro 2020 qualification bid that would repeat Albania 2016 success when the national side led by Gianni De Biasi made history with their debut appearance at a major international competition and were unlucky to make it to the knockout stage following a group stage victory against Romania, but losses to hosts France and Switzerland.

The national side will start the Nations League campaign on Sept. 7, 2018 when they host Israel, a team Albania first faced in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with both sides managing to get 3-0 away victories in their two-legged encounters, but Albania finishing third in a tough group campaign dominated by Spain and Italy.

Scotland, a team which Albania has never faced before is the toughest team in the group, with a lot of experience in World Cup and European tournaments, but having failed to reach a major finals since the 1998 World Cup.

Albania travel to Scotland on Sept. 10, three days after playing Israel, to conclude their first-leg Nations League fixtures. The second leg games will be away to Israel on Oct. 14 and at home to Scotland on Nov. 17.

The inaugural UEFA tournament largely replaces friendlies but will also play a major part in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign by deciding the final four places via play-offs.

Albania will also play two home friendlies against Wales and Jordan next October and November during the ‘free’ international match days of the Nations League competition.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 6, 2018 18:04