Euro 2020 qualification target set for new Albania coach

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 19, 2017 17:22
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Christian Pannuci signs a contract in Tirana. Photo: Albanian Football Associatiion

TIRANA, July 19 - Italian Christian Pannuci has been officially introduced as the new Albania coach, replacing Gianni De Biasi in a tough bid to make another surprise Euro qualification as hopes for a World Cup qualification are almost over.

Speaking at a press conference in Tirana on Wednesday, the former 44-year-old former AC Milan, Real Madrid and Roma defender said he wanted to follow in De Biasi’s footsteps.

"De Biasi has done an extraordinary job. He has made  history for Albania, but now we will start something new and I will try to do something important here," said Pannuci.

De Biasi led Albania for the past five and half years, becoming Albania’s most successful coach after managing to take the national side to a first ever appearance to a major competition such as the Euro 2016. He unexpected resigned last June following an impressive 3-0 away victory with Israel in a World Cup qualifier, overcoming a shameful five-game losing streak the national side had not experienced in more than a decade.

"The goal is to make it to the Euro 2020, it's the sole big target we have. This is what we have to do, I am convinced we have the right team to make it,” said Pannuci.

The 44-year old has little experience as a manager, but his young age and modest financial criteria seem to have led to a deal. Pannuci’s managerial experience started in 2012 when he served as assistant to Fabio Capello, one of the greatest Italian coaches, when he was leading the Russian national side. Pannuci also managed Serie B sides Livorno, Ternana in the past couple of years.

"It was quite easy for me as being Albania's coach is really prestigious and an important opportunity,” said Pannuci.

The Italian, who has signed a 48-month contract will reportedly earn about €20,000 a month, half of what De Biasi was paid in the past couple of years.

Albania’s Football Association President Armand Duka said he was confident Pannuci is the right manager for Albania.

"We made the best decision, we picked one of the world's greatest players who has huge experience as a player, but maybe modest in coaching," said Duka

"We have made a very good choice. For me, he is a man with a great will and desire. I am convinced that together we can make it to the Euro 2020,” he added.

The Albanian national side was also considering Italians Paolo Di Canio, Giancarlo Camolese, Filippo Inzaghi, Alberto Malesani, Valter Zenga and Dutch Clarence Seedorf for the post.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 19, 2017 17:22