Tirana sack Brazilian Ze Maria over poor results following Superliga comeback

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 17, 2018 17:15

Tirana sack Brazilian Ze Maria over poor results following Superliga comeback

TIRANA, Oct. 17 – Tirana have sacked Brazilian coach Ze Maria and hired a former Albanian club player following a poor Superliga start after an embarrassing first-ever relegation from the top flight of Albania football last year.

The 45-year old Brazilian leaves Tirana after leading Albania’s historically most successful club in its toughest times and managing to bring it back to the Superliga following a humiliating first-ever relegation in the 2017-18 season.

A former Brazilian international who spent most of his career as a right back with Italian clubs until the mid-2000s, Ze Maria led Tirana for 15 months. He faced the tough tasks of making it to the Albanian Superliga and bringing back irritated fans to the stadium, two duties which he successfully met until mid-October 2018 when newly promoted Tirana find themselves rank seventh, having collected only eight points from eight games and standing just above the relegation zone, although the championship is still in its initial stage and there are 28 more games to go.

“There are times when divorce is needed in case a marriage doesn’t get on well and it’s high time we divorced because of poor results,” Ze Maria, who previously trained teams in Italy and Kenya before joining Tirana in mid-2017, has said.

“We will see as time goes by whether the problem was mine or the president’s. I hope I was the problem and really wish the team to grow. The team has a kind of impasse and it’s not easy to get out of. Young players should understand what they represent and do the best when wearing the Tirana shirt,” says the Brazilian.

Tirana, who have claimed the Albanian Superliga a record 24 times and won the Albania Cup 16 times, have been poorly performing in the past seven years amid financial problems in an elite Albanian club where the majority 66 percent stake is owned by Refik Halili, a traditional sponsor of Tirana and the remaining minority stake by the Municipality of Tirana.

Refik Halili, the president of Tirana football club said he was forced to cancel the contract with the Brazilian due to poor results at a time when Tirana’s target is to make it to the top four or claim the Albanian Cup in order to make it to the upcoming European competition qualifying campaigns.

Ardian Mema, a former Tirana player who in the past year served as assistant coach with Tirana and Flamurtari, has been hired to replace Ze Maria, becoming the tenth coach to lead Tirana since 2012.

“The players are not in a good psychological condition and we have to work on this altogether to overcome this situation. We have to set up a team spirit in order to go back to positive results,” says the new 48-year-old coach.

With eight games played, Tirana-based Partizani, one of Albania’s elite clubs who have been trophiless since the early 1990s, lead the Albanian Superliga and are one of the top favorites to make it this year due to main rivals, second-placed Skenderbeu in financial straits.

Albania’s reigning champions Skenderbeu have made a good start this season and are favorites to win again despite their future depending on a decision by Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport after they were handed a tough 10-year ban from international competition by UEFA over match-fixing.

Skenderbeu have dominated Albanian football in the past decade, claiming seven titles and becoming the first ever Albania club to make it to the Europa League group stage with two appearance in the 2015-16 and 2017-18 campaigns.

The Albanian Superliga features 10 teams, two of which are relegated following a four-stage 36-game championship.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 17, 2018 17:15