Soccer-Albania are finding their feet - coach Sylvinho


Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group B - Italy v Albania - Dortmund BVB Stadion, Dortmund, Germany - June 15, 2024 Albania coach Sylvinho REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler

DORTMUND, Germany (Reuters) - Albania are learning how to cope with the spotlight in their second major tournament and Saturday's 2-1 defeat by Italy in Euro 2024 will help them for the tests ahead of Croatia and Spain, coach Sylvinho said.

"I used to play, when I was a player, in the Champions League. I know what was expected of me against Real Madrid, Milan and Juventus," the former Arsenal and Barcelona left back told reporters.

"But when you are not used to playing this kind of competition, you have no idea what you are expecting," he said.

Albania's fans far outnumbered the Italians in the Dortmund BVB Stadion, creating a deafening atmosphere.

"Once you have done the first match, there is no problem with the emotions any more," Sylvinho said.

Albania stunned Italy after 23 seconds when Nedim Bajrami intercepted a poor throw-in to slam the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma, the fastest ever goal in the European Championship.

Italy stormed back, however, with quickfire goals from Alessandro Bastoni and Nicolo Barella.

Sylvinho said his side struggled in that opening period but could have salvaged a draw late on.

"It's only our second time here in the Euros. We have young players, very good players, but it's not easy, they are a very strong side, candidates for the title," the Brazilian said.

Albania face Croatia on Wednesday in Group B which is considered the toughest in the opening stage of the tournament in Germany.

Sylvinho promised his side would remain disciplined.

"I have seen other sides in this tournament. If you try and go toe to toe with them, they will score five or six against you," he said.

(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by Ed Osmond)

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