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And Now Sport 3

Albania lost their first friendly in the run up to the Euro 2008 qualifying stages last night against Lithuania. Albania are in Group G - not the toughest group, but not the easiest either, with Romania, Bulgaria and Holland involved as well as Belarus, Slovenia and Luxembourg.

Having gone ahead against Lithuania from a penalty, Albania conceded an equaliser within two minutes. Just before half time Lithuania scored again.

In the second half Albania created a stack of opportunities looking for their second goal, but some off-target shooting and good goalkeeping kept them at bay. Lithuania defended in depth and played on the break even winning a penalty at one stage which was well saved by the Albanian goalie.

Throughout the game Albania were playing against not just Lithuania but also the pitch and the weather conditions. The surface at Qemal Stafa is poor at the best of times, but after many days of constant and often heavy rain in Tirana it was worse than ever.

During the game there were regular outbursts of torrential rain and hail and by the end the pitch resembled a ploughed field. The Albanian team, who like to play the ball on the ground, struggled to get their game flowing as the pitch deteriorated.

Still, it wasn’t a bad result – Albania definitely had the better of the second half. The first real game of Euro 2008 kicks off on 2 September, an away game at Belarus. The first home game will be on 6 September against Romania.

In the league, things are pretty much as they have been, with Elbasan consolidating their lead and the three Tirana teams trailing behind.

Finally, thanks to Dave for forwarding this video: Folk Songs of the Far Right. It has nothing to with either football or Albania but I thought it might give some of you a laugh. If you want to go straight to the wmv, go here.

Comments

ITS said…
When I was growing up in Albania, I used to hear this line all the time "We played better than the opponent, but lost!"

It drove me crazy. I wished that they would play terrible, but win.

Anyway, if Greece won the European Cup last time, anything can happen in this world. It doesn't hurt to dream.
vloraboy said…
I just read a very negative article about Brigel and our national team. Apparently he is about to end his contract with FSHF because he doesn't think that Albania has a bright near future. Most of the current players are over 30 years old, and it will be hard to replace 7-8 players immediately...specially when it comes to the quality (or lack of) of our domestic league.

I am a crazy fan. I love Albania more than anything else in the world, and I don't like to hear such things...specially when they are true. But I think we are seriously hurting at the moment. We will never be a football power house until we increase the quality of our league. And that won't happen unless we start building stadiums, and fields where players can train and develop. We have the talent (here is another cliche), we just don't know how to nurture it.
ourmanintirana said…
Understand entirely Vloraboy - we have the same problem in Northern Ireland. Poor stadiums, poor training facilities, lack of investment, lack of professionalism.

The only reason we have any good players at all is because the big English teams have scouts looking for potential players. When they find them they take them to England and develop them properly.

But with such a small base of players its only rarely that there are enough good players at any one time to make a good team.

The other problem with the local league here in Albania is that some of the teams - especially those in the city - spend money bringing in outsiders from South American or African countries instead of working with and developing local players.

Still, look on the bright side - you are still 20 places above Northern Ireland in the FIFA rankings.

Unfortunately, you are below everyone else in your Euro 2008 qualifying group except Luxembourg. And Northern Ireland are just about ahead of lowly Liechtenstein in Group F.

Looks like a tough task for both our teams.

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