Albanian Superliga: Three teams fight for title, sixth others to remain in top flight

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 16, 2017 11:08

Albanian Superliga: Three teams fight for title, sixth others to remain in top flight

SuperligaTIRANA, May 16 - With only two other games to go, the Albanian Superliga is facing one of its toughest competition in decades with three teams fighting for the top league title and sixth others struggling to remain in the top flight, including Tirana, the country's historically most successful club.

North-east Albania-based Kukes with not much history in Albania's Superliga but finishing second four times in their past five years in the country's top league seem advantaged for a first-ever Superliga win as they hold a 1 point lead over second-placed reigning champions Skenderbeu and are four points ahead of Partizani who lost pace with the leaders after being held to a draw last Monday.

Kukes, who easily beat the now relegated Korabi with a hat trick by Croatian striker Pero Pejic, the Superliga top scorer with 26 goals, are the only team to remain unbeaten in 34 matches. Their decisive test will be next Saturday, May 20, when they host Skenderbeu, the sixth straight Superliga champions who are back in the Superliga title fight following seven wins in a row.

The reigning champions narrowly beat Tirana 1-0 with a late penalty kick converted by Hamdi Salihi, the much-travelled former Albania international who has been Skenderbeu's top scorer in the past couple of years since joining the "Snow Wolves" in 2015 following spells in Austria, the U.S. and Israel.

The loss to the reigning champions further complicated Tirana's chances to remain in the top flight as the record 24 times Superliga champions are currently in the relegation zone and will face two remaining decisive fixtures against Luftetari and Vllaznia to save themselves from the shame of a first ever relegation in about a century of history. The Albanian Cup final with six-time consecutive reigning Superliga champions Skenderbeu at the end of May is the only consolation to Tirana fans this season.

Tirana-based Partizani seeking a decades-long comeback as Superliga champions Partizani was held to a 1-1 draw by Flamurtari on Monday, running their Superliga dream as they trail leaders Kukes by four points now with only two other games to go.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 16, 2017 11:08