When Blaž Slišković took the helm at Tirana, he did not hide where he believed the side's primary weaknesses lay. "The defence wins games," the coach said of a team whose weaknesses at the back last season, conceding 36 in 33 outings, underpinned their disappointing sixth-place finish. Yet Ansi Agolli, Lila, Abraham and Tefik Osmani have forged an impressive understanding and six games into the new campaign they have been breached only twice. Indeed, newcomer Lila has also been contributing in attack, scoring decisive goals in wins against FK Partizani and KS Apolonia.
"I scored two headers in back-to-back matches and if I had scored one more against KS Flamurtari, I would have shaved my head," said the former Albania Under-21 captain, alluding to a promise made to his new team-mates. Instead, the goalscoring burden was harboured by in-form Memelli, whose hat-trick took him to five goals as the 28-year-old thrives on his return to Albania on loan from Swedish side GAIS Göteborg.
The goals put Memelli top of the Albanian scoring charts, one ahead of KS Vllaznia midfielder Pavlin Dhëmbi who earned his side a 1-1 draw with former club KS Dinamo Tirana last time out, a result that nonetheless allowed KF Tirana to go three points clear at the summit. Dinamo are third although another of Dhëmbi's ex-employers, Partizani, are languishing at the other end of the table as they struggle to come to terms with financial problems and the departure of a host of players during the summer. "It's bad, very bad," said coach Hasan Lika, whose plight has not been aided by the club's suspension of Elis Bakaj. "We have to do our best to get things together and start winning some points."
That is an approach shared by struggling KS Bylis, though they have not always gone about it in the best way. Against Vllaznia a fortnight ago they spent the first minute and a half of the second period with ten men after the match restarted with goalkeeper Emanuel Egbo still making his way out of the dressing room. Bylis survived that spell but lost 1-0. It was not the best of starts for coach Hysen Dedja, who has come in for Faruk Sejdini, while Ilir Daja is the new man in charge of KS Besa following Iljaz Haxhiaj's resignation in mid-September.
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