KF Tirana finished the season in 3rd place following a 2-2 draw at KS Skenderbeu Korce on the last day of the season. This means that they finish the season without the Superliga title or the Albanian Cup, however they did win the Supercup at the start of the season, beating Flamurtari. They finished with a total of 52 points, just one behind KS Besa Kavaje in second place but 9 points away from champions Dinamo. However they did manage to finish ahead of KF Laci, although only by a single point. This means that Dinamo will compete in the Champions League and Besa, Tirana and Laci will compete in the Europa League.
The team has seen many changed in the past few weeks, as new signings and managerial changes have taken place ahead of the club's Euopean adventure. New signings are believed to be Renado Kalari, Arjan Pisha, Oriand Abazaj, all of which have already played for Tirana (Kalari only at youth level). Goalkeeper Klajdi Kuka has also returned from his loan spell with Bylis Ballsh. Foreigners Mahmood Al Ajmi (Bahrain), James Situma (Kenya), Manuel Vergori (Italy), Cameron Hepple (Bahamas) and Etogo Essama (Cameroon).
New Spanish manager Julian Rubio has been preparing his side in Oher, Macedonia as the club wait to find out their Europa League opponents, but it is almost definately going to be Spartak Trnava of Slovakia, who beat Montenegrians Zeta 3-0 in their first leg. Whoever Tirana's opposition is, the club will be hoping for success, despite many of the club's best players leaving, most of which have gone abroad.
Following a successful return to the Tirana bench, new coach Sulejman Starova has set a target of 6 straight wins, although he is to play his former team Teuta Durres next. After winning away from home against a tough Apolonia side Starova claimed to be happy with the progress of the team and that his side needs another 6 wins in a row to be able to get something out of a fairly poor season.
Following the sides 2-1 loss to Vllaznia Devi Muka quit as manager of the club but still remained the club's captain and player. He was replaced by former KF Tirana coach Sulejman Starova who recently quit as Division 1 side Partizani Tirana's technical director. He was unvailed on the 29th March directly after Muka's decision to leave his post as manager. Starova is now Tirana's 5th manager of the season after Loncarevic, Tafaj, Dede and Muka, making Tirana the team with the highest amaount of managerial changes this season.
The Albanian National Team has moved up 13 places to 83rd in this months FIFA rankings released today. They had previously been in 96th place prior to the 1-0 friendly win against Northern Ireland last month. In the UEFA rankings Albanian nw sit in 40th place out of 53, which is an increase of just 1 as they were in 41st place last month. Albania have their eyes set on the Euro 2012 qualification, in which they have France, Romania, Bosnia and Luxembourg to face in their group.
KF Tirana crumbled to another defeat in the Albanian Superliga today after losing to Vllaznia 1-2 at home. The match started brightly for the home side and they soon took advantage after winning a penalty in the 13th minute, Gjergji Muzaka converted the spot kick to give his side the lead. However this did not last long as Vllaznia themselves then won a spot kick which wa converted by Montenegran defender Blazo Rajovic in the 25th minute.Vllaznia then took the lead in last 5 minutes through Bosnian striker Sead Haxhibulic who is on loan from Apolonia Fier.
This loss was KF Tirana's 10th of the season which moved them down to 4th place and out of the Europa League spots. Vllaznia have now found their form and are now in 6th place with a total of 33 points. In 155 matches between the two clubs, Vllaznia hav now won a total of 70 compared to Tirana's 69, they have drawn 36 times in total.
After the 3-1 defeat to Flamurtari for the second tim this season KF Tirana were considered to be out of the title race by many, but player-manager Devi Muka still has the belief that his side can still win it. During teh last two training sessions ahead of the crucial Vllaznia clash today he has put the players through their paces and has made them work hard, especially the ones that are likely to start the game. As the side go into this fixture at the back of a 3-1 loss and an overall disasterous season, which has made the players and staff more aggresive in their approach tot his game which has proved to be a cracker every time it comes round.
Today the big match between KF Tirana and Vllaznia is to be played at the Selman Stermasi Stadium. Both teams have under achieved this season and currently lie 3rd and 8th respectively, however despite a poor season so far for both teams the match is still providing a lot of talk in Albania as it always has done in history. In the last 35 games between the 2 sides KF Tirana have come out on top on 23 occasions and have drawn and lost 6 against Vllaznia. However, these two teams met on February 6th at the Qemal Stafa Stadium and Vllaznia won that game 0-1 thanks to a 1st half strike from young talent Bekim Balaj.
According to leading Albanian sports news agency 'Albania Sport' KF Tirana are currently in negotiations with newly promoted club KF Laci about the possible transfer of the club's top scorer and insiprational striker, Arlind Nora. The striker from gjirokaster has scored 5 goals this season and is Laci's leading scorer, which has meant that coach Stavri Nica is trying to do all he can to keep the 29 year old forward at the club until at least the end of the season. His last goal came in the 1-1 draw with league leaders Dinamo Tirana on the the last week of the calendar year. Alban Tafaj has wanted another at the club since taking over and has been linked with the likes of Dinamo's Sebino Plaku and Vllaznia's Sinani who looks to be on his way to Besa Kavaje.
Five blue and white players have been picked by national team coach Josip Kuzhe to join up witht he team for their individual winter training camp in Turkey. These players are Andi Lila, Ditmar Bicaj, Jetmir Sefa, Sabien Lilaj and Gjergji Muzaka. Youngsters Ditmar Bicaj and Sabien Lilaj are the only non capped players from Tirana to be picked for the national team training camp which the coach will use to pick his team for the Euro 2012 qualifications that will begin the near future. These five players have not met up with the Tirana squad and will travell to Turkey with th rest of the national team and not with Tirana.
Following the club's few days off following the Christmas and new years celebrations, the club is now under way to building a successful team that will be capable of catching the leaders Dinamo. 2009 proved to be a year with many highs and lows, such as the winning of the 2009-2010 championship and the narrow loss to Flamurtari in the finals of the cup. One of the club's best players of not only 2009, but the last two decades, Blendi Nallbani still believes that despite Dinamo Tirana's total dominance of the Albania Superliga this season his side is still the better one with the better players and the team with the better chance of winning the title again.
The enthusiastic goalkeeper nicknamed "Tata" told Sporti Shqiptar newspaper that he and the rest of his teammates are still confident that they can still win the title at the end of the season after ending the the year and decade on a run of 8 games undefeated in all competitions with 4 wins. According to the veteran goalkeeper, Tirana are determined to make th reamainder of the season count and that they are going to work hard during this break throughout most of January in order to close the gap on the leaders and currently second placed Besa.
The next game in the club's calendar is the Tirana derby with leaders Dinamo, which is a great chance to put pressure on the stuttering leaders which could be vital in the title race as early contenders Apolonia have struggled recently and the title race looks like a three horse race between Tirana, Dinamo and Besa. Th club will travell to Antalya, Turkey for their winter break which the club will hope will prepare them for the rest of the season and more immediately the Tirana derby.
KF Tirana once again struggled against one of the lesser sides of the Albanian Superliga, this time against newly promoted Gramozi co-owned by the brother of Albanian Oil tycoon, Rezart Taci. The game ended 1-1, leaving the home side and champions in real trouble as the 1st part of the Albanian Superliga came to an end.
The game was planned to be played at the National Team's Qemal Stafa Stadium but due to special circumstances the game was played at the Selman Stermasi Stadium just a few minutes away. It all began well for Tirana as the captain Devi Muka drove his side forward early on and created some decent chances. In the first half Muka converted the spot kick and gave Tirana the lead. After this it looked like it was going to be a routine win for the champions as Gramozi applied very little pressure during the remainder of the first half.
The second half was a different story as Agim Canaj's men were inspired during the half time interval. The game changed on its head when Tirana's Bicaj brought down Brazillian forward Dos Santos five minutes after the second half had gotten under way. To make sure that his side saw out the rest of the game, Canaj changed the formation to 4-5-1 to make sure that the midfield battle was won by the new boys and not the champions. Gramozi, who had a great number of travelling supporters coming from the Erseke mountains region of Albania, managed to see out the remainder of the game despite Tirana's pressure and the face that Alban Tafaj had gone all out attack in closing stages of the game, bringing on last season's top goalscorer Migen Memelli.
Tirana president has told the press that he is almost certain that the club's main striker and last season's golden boot winner, Migen Memelli. The striker from Korce was the biggest threat in the league last season with his impressive 22 goals in just 29 league games and a another 8 in 8 cup games, including a stunning 5 goals in one match against Apolonia in the last 16. In total the striker scored 30 goals in 37 games, including 2 hattricks and 4 braces. He was also called up to the Albanian national team and earned his first and only cap to date.
He has been on loan from Swedish side GAIS from since the start of the 2008-09 season and has been one of Tirana's best players ever since. Halili has expressed hisdersire for the striker to sign a premanent deal at the club when his loan deal expires at the end of the month. Memelli is expected to do so unless he has a better offer from a better, foreign team. He has a verbal agreement with president Halili about the matter and has also stated that he wants to remain a Tirana player.
Tirana have recently showb their interest in signing two of the Albanian Superliga's most talented youngsters in Flamurtari's Franc Veliu and Apolonia vice captain Maringlen Shoshi. Both players have played for Albania U-21 and both have also recently recieved call ups to the senior national team under Josip Kuze, however neither have earned a full senior cap yet but both have featured in unofficial friendlies for the national team this calender year.
Tirana are though to be interested in the youngsters and would like to sign both next month when the transfer window re-opens for business once again. Veliu is though to have a huge €500,000 which Tirana are unlikely to pay for a player even of his quality which makes the pursuit of the Flamurtari defender even more challenging as there are foreign clubs though to be intersted in him as well.
Franc Veliu; Born in Vlore on 11 November 1998 (21 years old); Left/centre defender; This season 11 games 0 goals; Price tag €300,000 (transfermarkt).
Maringlen Shoshi; Born in Fier on 29 January 1987 (22 years old); Central defender; This season 11 games 0 goals; Price tag €500,000 (transfermarkt).
Flamurtari 0-2 KF Tirana
Flamurtari Stadium, 13:00
Scorers: Sefa 54', Ahmataj 89'
Referee: Kridens Meta
KF Tirana travelled to Southern Albania for the match played today against a Flamurtari side struggling at the bottom of the table. The match was played at the Flamurtari Stadium in Vlore at 13:00 local time and was broadcast live by leading Albanian sports media group Supersport. Tirana needed the win so that they were stil had a chance of being able to put pressure on the leaders Dinamo who won once again two days ago after a brace by midfielder Elis Bakaj.
The match started brightly for the visitors who gave the Flamurtari keeper a lot to think about during the first half, however despite all this pressure Tirana still didnt manage to score within the first 45 minutes. During the second half Tirana raised the tempo of the game and soon enough all their hard work payed off when 22 year old national team midfielder Jetmir Sefa, broke the deadlock in the 54th minute to net for the third time this season. In the second half the captain Muka was responsible for the teams surge forward and for the organisation of the defense which payed off in the end as Tirana bagged another goal before the final whisle and they kept a vital clean sheet to help the club's goal difference.
However, it was not all plain sailing for Tirana as Flamurtari had their chances as well, although the attacks didnt occur often they still managed to disrupt the Tirana defence and goalkeeper. Flamurtari's biggest chance came in the 85th minute when the scores were 1-0 to Tirana, this was due to the Tirana's reserve goalkeeper Pece Korunovski making just his second league start of the season in the absence of Nallbani. The Macedonian spilled the ball after a shot from one of the Flamurtari players which gave the chance to Devis Mema to equalise, but this did not happedn as the striker from Korce couldnt get his shot away qucik enough, giving the chance to Tirana's Ditmar Bicaj to clear the danger. Flamurtari were made to pay just 4 minutes later when Julian Ahmataj scored for the first time since moving from Elbasani in the summer. His goal in the 89th minute put the game to rest and secured a vital three points away from home, even if it was against the bottom side.
Laci 0-0 Skenderbeu
Shkumbini 1-1 Gramozi - R.Dervishi 90' / Sadiku 9'
Dinamo 2-0 Kastrioti - Bakaj 13',32'
Vllaznia 2-3 Besa - Sinani 56', Balaj 75' / Xhafaj 1', Cikalleshi 94', Leci 97'
Teuta 0-2 Apolonia - Brkic 57', Kaci 69'
Flamurtari v Tirana
Tirana are in desperate need for a need against Flamurtari on Monday as they can't afford to slip up any further in the title race. The match is being played on a Monday due to the Albanian Cup holders, Flamurtari competing in the first ever Indipendance Cup set up by the FSHF. Th mini-competition included Flamurtari of Albania, KF Prishtina of Kosovo and Shkëndija Tetovë of Macedonia. Flamurtari managed to win the first ever competition on penalties. This win has given the team a needed spirit for the game on Monday as they currently lie at the foot of the table with just 10 points, a win however would see them get out of the relegation zone ahead of fellow top side Vllaznia Shkoder.
Once again it's Dinamo Tirana's midfield maestro, Elis Bakaj who shines for the club in another impressive victory this time against Kastrioti. No wonder Josip Kuze can resist but to put him in the Albanian national team starting line up as he proved once again that he is the best player currently playing in the Albanian Superliga with a great performance and two goals that sealed the three points that took them to 32 for the season. Now Dinamo are 13 pointsaway from second placed Besa, but they have played 12 league games so far, 1 more than the other title contenders such as Besa, Apolonia and of course Tirana. Their goal difference is also superior as they have moved up to +17 for the season, with the second ranked goal difference being Apolonia's with just +4.
Apolonia embarrassed champions Tirana today at the “Loni Papuçiu” stadium in Fier after defeatign them by 2 goals to nil in the fifth round of the kategoria Superiore. The goals came from Agim Meto in the 84th minute and Serbian striker Mladen Brkic in the 88th minute. The loss meant that Tirana where now even further from the top as an Elis Bakaj inspired Dinamo beat ten-man Shkumbini 2-1 in Tirana.
KF Tirana's Croatian coach Lonçareviç hasn't exacly had the perfect start to his first season in Albania but that did not stop his optimism ahead of the Kategoria Superiore Round 5 clash with Apolonia in Fier. Lonçareviç, 64, stated that he only has the 3 points in his mind and is not contemplating defeat against a tough Apolonia side at the “Loni Papuçiu” stadium in Fier.
He also hinted that 2 of last seasons star player Gjergji Muzaka and Abraham Alechenwu would start the game on the bench because they are not ready to become a main player in the team due to their fitness levels.
The KF Tirana team completed their final training session at the “Skënder Halili” complex in Tirana before heading off for Fier yesterday. The team arrived at Hotel ''Silvi'' near the town of Patos where they spent last night.
KF Tirana's inspirational leader and captain Devis Mukaj, trained with the rest of the squad yesterday ahead of his teams clash with Apolonia. It was his first team training session since picking up an injury during the clubs short adventure in Champions League. Asked whether he would feature in the game againt Apolonia, he made it clear that he didn't want to risk making the injury worse by playing.