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Skenderbeu Korce vs Milsami.

Skenderbeu Korce vs Milsami.

Champions league is more than Real Madrid, Juventus and Chelsea and if you watch some of the early qualification games then you can have some nice experiences too in some exotic locations. I had a nice evening in Elbasan in Albania where I was watching Skenderbeu Korce and Milsami play a qualification game for Champions League.

A pint of beer costs me 200 Lek, which is around 1,5€ inside the national stadium, but I only get to pay for one, as albanian football fans pay for the next two when they realize that I am a foreign fan who has come to see their team Skenderbeu, trying to make it one step further in the Champions league. Popping in to watch a local football game as I travel the world almost always prove to be a success and tonight is no exception.

Friendly albanian football fans.

Friendly albanian football fans.

Who are Skenderbeu and Milsami?

My ticket for the game.

My ticket for the game.

Skendberbeu is from the town Korce in southeast Albania, but their stadium does not have the facilities to meet international requirements, so they need to play their international games in Elbasan 2-3 hours drive away, but that does not stop their fans from showing up and there is a nice and very lively crowd for the game. The team has one the albanian championship the past 5 seasons, which is an all time record in Albania and they are owned by the towns city council and named after Albanias national hero Skanderbeg.

Milsami is from from the small town Orhei in Moldova. A town mainly known for growing wine and tobacco, but they are also reigning champions of Moldova with their football team and tonight they are are trying to get past Skenderbeu from Albania.

 

A loud but friendly crowd.

Albanian girl selling beer for 1,5€ a pint at the national stadium.

Albanian girl selling beer for 1,5€ a pint at the national stadium.

The week before this game there was another european game in Albania, where the local team Kukes played against Legia Warsaw from Poland and that ended in a lot of trouble, so the security is tight, but still friendly. I see no trouble in the stands though and it’s a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere with a lot of singing and chanting. I sit next to a very friendly family who have driven 3 hours in order to see the game and there are many families in the part of the stadium where I am, just like there are quite a few young women. Nice to see that it’s not just us middle aged guys who love to come to the stadium for a game of football. 🙂

A pretty young girl who works at the stadium shows me to my seat and there are young people walking around selling snacks and drinks during the game at what is probably the lowest prices I have seen for a beer in a football stadium so far. 1,5€ for a pint of beer is hard to beat and they also sell soft drinks and snacks and one of them comes to me and tells me to call him if I have any trouble as he speaks both Albanian, english and norwegian.

 

So who won the game?

All football stadiums in the world should have girls like these workig there :-)

All football stadiums in the world should have girls like these working there 🙂

Skenderbeu Korce won the first game away with 2-0 and when a Milsami player is red carded and Skenderbeu Korce scores a goal within the first 15 minutes, then the game becomes a bit of a walkover for Skenderbeu, but it’s a lively game and with the home team coming closer to the promised land in Champions League, with all it’s millions, the atmosphere is friendly and festive and the many bars outsite the stadium are full in the hours after the game.

 

What is Elbasan like as a football town?

The main avenue in Elbasan

The main avenue in Elbasan

Elbasan has recently build a new football stadium that has become the new national arena of Albania, so many foreign fans will travel to there in the future, so I thought I would just give a little info about Elbasan as a football town for the foreign visitor.

The town is about an hours drive from Tirana and the stadium is right in the middle of town, at the end of the main avenue, where you find lot’s of bars, cafes and eating places, so in that regard it’s a very football fan friendly stadium. The main obstacle is that Elbasan does not have many hotels, so if there is a big away crowd coming then you might need to spend the night in Tirana and travel to there after the game. Tirana is a lively city at night and a good place to stay, but I think you should try and stay the night in Elbasan if you can as it’s a pretty lively town right after a football game and you are away from the tourist trail, so the locals are friendly and curious to you as a foreign football visitor. I had a very hard time paying for my beers when I was there. Free beer is just something you have to get used to when watching football in Albania. Hard life isen’t it? 🙂

Having a beer in Elbasan.

Having a beer in Elbasan.

There are both regular busses and mini busses running between Elbasan and Tirana and they run all day long with very regular intervals. The price for a ticket with a normal bus is 150 Lek at the moment (around 1€) and if you take one of the faster mini busses then you pay about twice that, but none of it will ruin your budget I think.

Outside the national stadium in Elbasan.

Outside the national stadium in Elbasan.

The bus station in Elbasan.

The bus station in Elbasan.

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2 Comments

  1. Absolutely brilliant Claus!! Love the beers and the girls just as much as the match itself. I have watched my local team, Glentoran FC in the European Cup many times. In 1991 we drew 1-1 with Steaua Bucharest including Hagi, Lacatus etc. Sadly those days are gone and my team has to play matches in late June/early July now just for the chance to get into the qualifiers.

    The Albanian team you watched had knocked out Crusaders in the previous round – they are the Northern Irish Champions and a team my Dad played for in the 70s and 80s. Hope to catch you round the world someday to go to a random match!

    It also looks like the NI team did better against Skenderbeu than this team, as they won the home leg but lost 4-1 away.

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