Albania and its Brazilian coach Sylvinho are going to the European Championship next year.
Veteran forward Sokol Cikalleshi’s 25th-minute penalty helped secure a 1-1 draw for Albania at Moldova on Friday to clinch a spot at Euro 2024 in Germany with one round to spare in its qualifying group. Moldova equalized in the 87th, but a point was enough for Albania to ensure a top-two finish in Group E.
Group-leading Albania has outperformed higher-ranked Poland and the Czech Republic to ensure it will play at just a second Euros after debuting at the 2016 edition. Albania is the 12th country to confirm its place at the 24-team tournament.
Albania moved three points ahead of the second-place Czechs but four points clear of Moldova and Poland who each have just one game left.
Poland and star forward Robert Lewandowski play their final game later Friday at home against the Czechs and look destined for the qualifying playoffs in March.
Sylvinho, the former Arsenal and Barcelona left-back, has found success after lasting less than a year at his previous jobs coaching Lyon and Corinthians.
He was appointed in January and has led Albania on a seven-game unbeaten run after starting qualifying with a 1-0 loss at Poland in March.
Albania hosts the Faeroe Islands in its final group game on Monday, when the Czechs host Moldova.
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