Having being dismissed by the underperforming Albanian champions, coach Sulejman Starova has lashed out at "the spoiled players" running the show at KF Tirana.
Appointed in June, Starova tendered his resignation after a 4-2 defeat at KS Skënderbeu on 15 September. "If everyone thinks I am the problem with this team then I am leaving," said the coach, who led Tirana to the league title in 2005. His resignation was refused by two of the club's four main sponsors, prompting another - Refik Halili - to walk out in protest.
An emergency sponsors meeting was then called at which the club elected to dismiss Starova after all, much to the coach's surprise. "No one has told me anything yet," he complained. "The spoiled players on the team run the show, not the coach or the sponsors." It was the shortest appointment of the coach's career but he insists "the big money makers" are the problem at Tirana.
Former national team coach Astrit Hafizi was appointed as Starova's replacement following another league defeat, a 1-0 at home against KS Besëlidhja on 22 September. Besëlidhja, whose coach Vasil Bici left the club after their first game of the season to be replaced by Ridvan Kuli, last beat Tirana in round 18 of the 1989/90 season. Hafizi will lead Tirana against KS Besa this weekend.
Another coach profiting from Tirana's current poor form has been the popular Faruk Sejdini who was named as coach of Korçë-based Skënderbeu just in time to lead them to victory against the champions. Marius Ngjela scored a hat-trick for his new coach in that game and currently tops the league scorers standings with five goals in four games to date.
At the top of the table, KS Dinamo Tirana and FK Partizani are yet to drop a single point after four rounds, while third-placed Besa have yet to lose a game but have ten points after drawing 1-1 against Sejdini's Skënderbeu in their most recent match. They are nonetheless making good use of African stars Bokolula Nana and François Elokan, both from Cameroon, and Abdulla Salihu from Ghana.
Encouragingly for the Albanian footballing authorities, there have been no complaints of black players being mistreated, although Besa officials did ask their African stars whether they agreed with suggestions that they were under more detailed scrutiny than their white counterparts. One of them replied: "You know what? I've never been a white player so I don't know."
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