Albania prepare for Macedonia qualifier after easy win over Liechtenstein

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 4, 2017 11:08

Captain Ansi Agolli scored the second goal with a stunning shot just outside the box. Photo: Albanian Football Association

TIRANA, Sept. 4 – Albania comfortably climbed to third place in Group G of the World Cup qualifiers last weekend following an easy home win against modest Liechtenstein, narrowing the gap to second-placed Italy to four points and reviving hopes for a possible play-off opportunity in case of finishing second.

Two second-half goals by Odise Roshi and captain Ansi Agolli gave Albania an easy win as new Italian coach Christian Pannuci made his debut with Liechtenstein, an easy test ahead of the tough Sept. 5 away qualifier against neighboring Macedonia.

Speaking after his first victory, the former 44-year-old former AC Milan, Real Madrid and Roma defender who is having his first international coaching experience with Albania, said he was in general pleased with the performance and result although the team suffered to convert scoring opportunities.

“We go to Macedonia happy about the victory and are aware it is a tough match and have to field in the best quality,” Pannuci said.

Legia Warwaw striker Armando Sadiku is expected to be in the starting eleven for Albania on Tuesday night’s qualifier away to Macedonia, strengthening Albania’s attack after being let to rest for Liechtenstein qualifier.

The 26-year-old has been Albania’s key striker in the past couple of years, helping the team qualify for a first-ever major competition such as Euro 2016 and keeping pace with former World Champions Spain and Italy in the World Cup qualifiers.

With three other qualifiers to go, Albania has collected 12 points, three points ahead of Israel who suffered their second consecutive home defeat to Macedonia following last June 3-0 loss to Albania.

Italy also suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat away to Spain who now comfortably hold a 3-point lead in Group G, paving the way for their direct qualification.

The Red & Blacks will conclude their qualification campaign in October 2017 with two tough fixtures against former world champions Spain and Italy Spain who seem unrivaled in the top two finish.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 4, 2017 11:08