Josip Kuze, from Croatia, is the new coach of the Albanian national team. He took on this task in September 2009. “After a six-month experience in Albania, I am very happy,” Kuze told "Southeast Europe: People and Culture“.
Kuze, 57, is the former trainer of Rwanda. He is the 16th trainer in the history of Albanian national team and the fifth foreign coach in the last seven years, succeeding the Dutch Arie Haan. His performance so far is considered positive. In the seven most recent matches, the national team has scored two victories, three draws and two losses.
What motivated you to become the trainer of the Albanian national team?
In the career of each trainer, being the coach of a national team, especially of a European football team, is a good feeling. I was told that this country has many budding players who are promising. In a word, I received positive information about the quality of football in Albania and I was optimistic that we could achieve good results. After a six-month experience in Albania, I am very happy.
What are the odds of the national team to become successful in the international arena?
Albania is in the 38th place (which means in the 5th pot) in the UEFA ranking. Our wish, our motivation is, of course, to make the next step: to come in the 3rd or 4th pot in the classification group. We go in each game to win. But for the time being, we are trying to be realistic. Most of all, we intend to take the next step: to be a serious opponent to all teams and achieve a better position.
Can we say that the Albanian national team's performance has begun to reflect the presence of a foreign coach?
By the time I got this post, Albania failed to qualify for the South Africa world soccer championship. Now, six months later, we are struggling to reach the 4th place in the classification of the Euro 2010 Qualifiers. So, I can say that we have currently wrapped ourselves up with a professional and competitive atmosphere. We also try to create a winning atmosphere around us. Therefore, there is a big difference in respect of the atmosphere around the national team players.
As far as I am concerned, I can say that Albanians got to know me very soon. One football game and some articles on the papers were enough. On the other hand, I like the Albanians as people. They trust me now and they expect me to succeed with the national team.
In your view, what are the major problems of Albanian football?
Albania has talents in soccer. Albanian children are playing football much earlier than many others. But the next step is the professional training of these children and this is actually missing. Another obstacle is the poor infrastructure. Work conditions especially with the young players are not appropriate. However, the Albanian Football Federation is taking measures to prepare the ground for the young players to work harder.
My view is that the Albanian football has untapped potentialities. There are many players, in my view, who need a better promotion.