KF Laçi's leading marksman Arlind Nora is close to fulfilling his dream of scoring for the club in Europe, after a win against champions KS Dinamo Tirana put the promoted side third in Albania.
With two games to go, the low-budget team from the north-west are level on points with fourth-placed KF Tirana, occupying a UEFA Europa League berth thanks to a superior goal difference. "My dream is to score for Laçi in Europe," said Nora, one of three players tied for second in the top goalscorers race with 13 Super League strikes. "I know it's difficult, but it's not impossible. It's a dream and dreams can come true. Anything can happen in the last two matches. We can go to the UEFA Europa League and I could score a goal to celebrate my birthday!"
Nora turns 30 on 4 July, in between the first and second legs of the first qualifying round, and his vision of European football seems a realistic one. Promoted last term, Laçi have never qualified for continental competition before, but coach Stavri Nica told UEFA.com: "We are still in the mix. We have played well all year as a result of good pre-season and mid-season preparations. We control our own destiny at this point and have to do our job, win the next two matches and not worry about other teams."
Laçi's last three games have been something of a roller-coaster ride. They won 2-1 at KF Tirana, lost 1-0 at home to second-placed KS Besa, and then, at the weekend, earned a 4-2 victory at Dinamo with Nora netting twice. Fixtures against KS Skënderbeu and KS Kastroiti complete their programme, and they will hope their passionate home fans can help them win the first of those encounters.
The city has united behind the club with the prospect of European action creating a real buzz, especially now that Laçi president Pashk Laska has finished redeveloping the stadium – as well as installing a new pitch and seating, the dressing room and media facilities have been updated.
"We have great fans," said coach Nica. "They are our 12th man and their support has been invaluable, so we hope to accomplish our goal and make their dream come true." Midfielder Valdan Nimani, a member of the promotion-winning side, added: "We know we are not there yet, but we hope to get there and we are aiming high."
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