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De Biasi: Albania can still qualify

Gianni De Biasi believes his Albania side can still qualify for the knockout stages of Euro 2016 – if they can cure their wastefulness in front of goal.

Having squandered a host of opportunities in their opening-round 1-0 defeat to Switzerland, Albania again missed the few chances that came their way against France before late strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet won it for the hosts.

Victory over Romania in their final Group A game may be enough to see them through as one of the four best third-placed teams and De Biasi is remaining optimistic.

He said: “Yes I believe we can qualify. I think that if we are able to score the goals that we haven’t against Switzerland and France then we could get the three points that may get us into the knockout rounds.”

On the evidence of their first two performances in the tournament that would be a fitting reward.

Albania were excellent at the Stade Velodrome, defensively secure and offering a threat on the counter.

“My team resisted right until the end,” added Italian De Biasi, “but we didn’t defend throughout, especially in the first half and at the start of the second.

“But when you don’t take your chances and score goals, you don’t get big results. My team held up pretty well and we’re disappointed to concede a goal a minute from the end.”

Key to their defensive performance was Arlind Ajeti, the replacement at centre-half for suspended captain Lorik Cana.

“Ajeti played well, he can have a significant future in Albanian football because he has good attributes,” said De Biasi.

“It’s a shame he’s not had a busy season and can’t hold up for 90 minutes as unfortunately I had to take him off but I am very happy with his performance and most of all with the team’s display.

“The players were very down afterwards and I told them to get their heads up and be proud of their performance against a very good France side. I think we caused problems for France tonight.

France boss Didier Deschamps blasted the state of the pitch, but De Biasi had no issues, adding: “It was a normal pitch and if you have good boots you should be able to overcome that.”

Thu 16 Jun, 2016
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