De Biasi: We will fight to the end of World Cup qualifiers

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 18, 2016 16:21

De Biasi: We will fight to the end of World Cup qualifiers

TIRANA, Oct. 18 – Albania’s Italian coach Gianni De Biasi says the national side will fight to the end in its Group G World Cup qualifiers, but is quite realistic when it comes to qualification hopes which received a huge blow following Spain’s easy win in the latest qualifier.

De Biasi, who has been in charge of Albania since 2011 and managed to take the national side to a historic first-ever appearance at a European championship, has recently come under fire following Albania’s poor performance with group favorites Spain, a lucky late winner at home with Macedonia and a 2-0 victory against modest Liechtenstein in the first three group qualifiers.

Albania made one of their poorest performances in the past few years with Spain defending all the time and shooting only once off the target in a display that had nothing in common with its impressive Euro 2016 campaign when it faced Portugal and France.

Oddly enough, Albania earned no corners both against Macedonia and Spain in the World Cup qualifiers. The national side also suffered from defensive blunders and lacked creativity both in the midfield and attack.

“I think it is quite normal losing to Spain as technically, the gaps are quite obvious. However, despite the result, every match should be analyzed. I think we did well against them (the Spaniards) even though we lost. In general, I am happy with the last two matches,” De Biasi told Italy’s TuttoMercatoWeb portal.

Asked about Albania’s chances of making it to Russia, De Biasi said “it is no problem for us and we don’t ask this question to ourselves. We live and think every day but being realistic. We face opponents such as Italy and Spain that feature great champions who have won everything.”

“Spain is superior compared to others, then comes Italy. Then it’s us (Albania), Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein. However, one thing is for sure, we will fight to the end,” he said.

Asked about emerging Albanian talents, De Biasi singled out 19-year-old forward Rey Manaj who joined Pescara this season on loan from Inter Milan at the Serie A top Italian league.

“I don’t like talking about special individuals as the team spirit has been and remains our strength. But I could think about Manaj who plays at the Italian championship and who will for sure be part of our team in the future. He is now gaining experience and his potential is well-recognized by everybody.”

De Biasi, who was rumored as a potential candidate for Italy after Albania’s Euro debut last summer, says he will conclude his Albania contract until the end of the World Cup qualifiers until late 2017.

“I am still under contract with the Albanian football association until the end of this competition and therefore I am focused here and of course will continue until my last match. Later, we will see what the future reserves,” he said.

Asked about whether his new training experience will continue with a national club or whether he will be in charge of a club, De Biasi said everything depends on what he is offered.

“It’s the same for me. Everything depends on the project and what I am proposed. Both the everyday work with a club and being in charge of a national side is okay for me. I don’t fall into depression if I don’t train every day. Everything depends on how you do it,” he added.

Albania now rank third on Group G of the Euro qualifiers with six points, level with Israel, trailing group leaders Spain and Italy by one point.

The national side will now have to focus on its next Nov. 12 qualifier at home with Israel who is likely Albania’s direct rival for a third spot in the group which earns neither a direct qualification nor a play-off opportunity.

The Red & Blacks will travel to Italy on March 14, 2017 in the first round of group matches.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 18, 2016 16:21