Skenderbeu claim sixth straight Superliga title

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 19, 2016 09:02

Skenderbeu claim sixth straight Superliga title

TIRANA, May 18 – Skenderbeu claimed their sixth consecutive Superliga title on Wednesday after an away victory and an unexpected home defeat by rivals Partizani who lost one of their best chances for a comeback as Albania top league winners having been trophyless for the past 23 years.

Unlike the previous five Superliga titles, Skenderbeu secured this season’s title in a last-day battle with rivals Partizani who were hoping the reigning champions would be held to at least a draw and win their home match to claim their long-awaited title.

However, Partizani’s title scenario proved a huge disappointment as fourth-placed Teuta came from one goal behind to beat Partizani 2-1 with a stoppage time winner, shocking its fans who had prepared for a celebration ceremony.

Skenderbeu, whom Partizani beat last week, won 2-0 away to eighth-placed Flamurtari who escaped relegation. Once the most successful side under communism, Partizani has been trophyless since 1993.

“This was one of the toughest championships because everything was decided at the last moment when we could have settled it three weeks ago. The Albanian championship has entered a new level… and now you can never take victories for granted,” said Skenderbeu’s president Ardian Takaj.

Partizani’s Italian coach Andrea Agostinelli said he was disappointed by the final match defeat, but praised the team’s performance during the season and their fighting to the end.

“I was really disappointed by the loss in the final match because we should have won for the fans. However, we should not forget that like never before Partizani has never been this close to the title. We played a very good championship and I congratulate the players,” said Agostinelli.

Much-travelled Skenderbeu striker Hamdi Salihi, who was the season’s top scorer with 27 goals but missed the last match for yellow card accumulation, said he would choose Skenderbeu again if he decides to remain in Albania for the next season.

Korabi and Flamurtari have been promoted to the 10-team Albanian Superliga for next season while Terbuni and Bylis were relegated to the First Division.

The championship winners qualify for the UEFA Champions League Preliminary while the second and third-placed teams compete in the UEFA Europa League play-off stage along with the Albanian Cup winners.

Skenderbeu have been dominating Albanian football for the past six years although having previously won only a single title back in the early 1930s. The Snow Wolves’ success has come thanks to huge investment that brought to the southeastern club in the city of Korà§a promising Albanian and foreign players

Last year, Skenderbeu made history with their debut Europa League campaign as the first Albanian club to reach the group stage of a major European competition.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 19, 2016 09:02