14.06.2024 18:58 h

Underdogs Albania to 'fight for every point'

Albania coach Sylvinho promised his side will push their illustrious Group B opponents as hard as possible as the underdogs prepare for their Euro 2024 bow against holders Italy.

Albania head into just their second ever European Championship campaign in positive mood ahead of Saturday's clash with the Azzurri despite also having to face Spain and Croatia.

The Eagles are not fancied to reach the knockout stages but could dish out some bloody noses as the other trio battle for a place in the last 16.

"More than anything we're very happy to be here, we had a very tough path to qualification, it wasn't easy but it's an honour to represent Albania in this competition," Sylvinho, the Brazilian former Arsenal and Barcelona full-back. told reporters in Dortmund on Friday.

"We're in a very tough group. We understand how important this tournament is and how difficult our opposition will be, but we're going out there to fight for every point and to put on a good performance in the tournament."

Albania are expected to play in front of a large and passionate following in all three of their group matches, with football federation chief Armand Duka saying that "more than half" of the Westfalenstadion will be taken up by his countrymen.

"We know that there are lots of Albanians in Germany and Italy, in Switzerland, a bit everywhere. It's a huge responsibility to represent a people," added Sylvinho.

"Tomorrow it will be great to see a large part of the stadium in red."

Saturday's match is something of a derby for Albania as Sylvinho's squad features 10 players who play in Italy, including captain Berat Djimsiti who won the Europa League with Atalanta last month.

Sylvinho himself fielded most of the questions from Friday's press conference in Italian.

"It makes a big difference, a lot of our players have played in Italy and will continue to do so," said Djimsiti.

"It can help you because you're already familiar with who you're up against. But you're still playing against Italy, and they're a team which is aiming to win these big competitions."