Albania hires Brazilian Sylvinho to coach its national team

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The Albanian soccer federation hired Sylvinho on Monday as coach of the national team with the goal of qualifying for the 2024 European Championship.

The 48-year-old Brazilian signed a contract that will take him through the Euro 2024 tournament in Germany.

“Football needs your soul and heart in there. That is why we are here,” Sylvinho said at a news conference after signing the 18-month contract.

Sylvinho replaces Italian Edoardo Reja, who led Albanians for three and a half years and 30 matches, winning half of them.

A former left back, Sylvinho played for Barcelona and Arsenal as well as briefly for Brazil’s national team. He ended his playing career with Manchester City in 2010.

Sylvinho has coached French club Lyon and Corinthians in Brazil. He was an assistant coach to Tite in Brazil and to Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan.

In Euro 2024 qualifying, Albania plays in Group E with Poland, the Czech Republic, Moldova and the Faroe Islands.

“We know it is a very balanced and complicated group and we shall aim at qualifying for the Euro finals,” Sylvinho said.

Albania faces Poland on March 27 but Sylvinho likely will set a friendly beforehand to get to know the Albanian players.

Sylvinho brought Brazilian Doriva and Argentinian Pablo Zabaleta with him as assistant coaches.

“The players with the Albanian national team have to believe in themselves,” Zabaleta said. “The reason we are here is that we see their potential, that we can bring success, that we can do something big.”

Albania played at its first major tournament at the European Championship in 2016 under Italian coach Gianni de Biasi. It did not qualify for Euro 2020.

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Follow Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini

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AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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