Albania to play warm-up game against Jordan ahead of Israel Nations League qualifier

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 20, 2018 13:53

Albania to play warm-up game against Jordan ahead of Israel Nations League qualifier

TIRANA, Sept. 10 - Albania will play a warm-up game home to Jordan before heading to Israel for the second-leg Nations League qualifier.

The home friendly, scheduled for Oct. 10 is a key test before Albania takes on Israel four days later on Oct. 14 in a second-leg qualifier for the inaugural Nations League, a UEFA competition that largely replaces friendlies but also plays a major part for the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign by deciding the final four places via play-offs.

The last time Albania travelled to Israel was in mid-2017 in a World Cup qualifier which Albania won 3-0 to avenge their 3-0 first-leg defeat.

Albania heads to the Jordan friendly after having beaten Israel 1-0 in their opening Nations League campaign and suffering a 2-0 defeat away to Scotland in two September games that showed Albania has a lot to improve, especially when it comes to defence whose blunders have been costing Albania dearly this year after losing four out of their five games, in a situation that has put Italian coach Christian Panucci under fire and placed big question marks over Albania's 2020 qualification bid.

Earlier this year, Albania lost all its three warm-up games against Norway, Kosovo and Ukraine in humiliating style.

The friendly against Jordan, a team that ranked 110th in the latest September FIFA men's ranking compared to Albania's 57th out of 210, is supposed to be an easy test and morale booster for the Red & Black ahead of the Israeli qualifier in order to keep their Nations League qualification hopes alive and hopefully earn a Euro 2020 qualification spot by winning their League C.

With two other second-leg games remaining, Albania now rank second in Group 1 of League C with three points, trailing Scotland who lead on goal difference and have a game in hand.

Albania conclude their group stage Nations League qualifiers on Nov. 17 with a home game against Scotland that could prove decisive for the group's lead and further progress with group leaders of League C with Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria as the toughest sides that Albania could face.

Albania will also play a home friendly against Wales on Nov. 20 ahead of the next December's group stage draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers with hopes of repeating their the historic first ever European Championship qualification claimed in 2016.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 20, 2018 13:53