Armand Duka is currently riding the wave of success as the president of the Albanian FA, and his bold decision to appoint Sylvinho as head coach has proven to be nothing short of courageous. Sylvinho, with his experience managing top clubs like Olympique Lyon and Corinthians, brought a fresh style of football to Albania, culminating in a remarkable Euro 2024 qualifying campaign that saw the team secure a spot in Germany.
Just over ten months into this transformative journey, Duka finds vindication in his decision. Under Sylvinho’s guidance, Albania clinched qualification for the Euros and did so as group leaders, surpassing more fancied teams like the Czech Republic and Poland. For someone deeply involved in local football for two decades, Duka acknowledges that the national team’s 2023 success was once unimaginable.
In a candid conversation with Tribalfootball.com, Duka reflects on the incredible journey: “From the first day, it would have been impossible to think that we would achieve these results as we did in 2023. I think 2023 has been the best year for Albanian football in history.”
Armand Duka: Inspiring the Nation’s Football Passion
Duka’s recognition has extended beyond national borders, with UEFA appointing him as vice president earlier this year. The journey from leading the Albanian FA in 2002 to becoming a UEFA vice-president was unforeseen. Still, Duka attributes it to years of devoted work to improving the FA’s structure and infrastructure and achieving outstanding results with the national team.
Comparing this success to the 2016 Euros qualification, Duka emphasizes the distinctiveness of the current achievement. While the 2016 team is revered as national heroes, the 2023 squad stands out under Sylvinho’s leadership for their convincing performance and attacking football philosophy.
Duka takes pride in the burgeoning talent pool, with players like Armando Broja, Kristjan Asllani, and Nedim Bajrami making waves in top European clubs. He credits Albania’s coaches and improved facilities for the team’s progress, highlighting the importance of selecting players for their skills and character.
Armand Duka: Revolutionizing Football in Albania
As Albania comfortably secures a place in Euro 2024, Duka reflects on the significant changes within the Albanian FA. “The changing of our approach at the Albanian FA and raising our level is now being recognized. We now have over half of our administrative staff in UEFA administration organs or committees.” It’s a testament to Albania’s ascent, both on the pitch and in the boardroom, marking a new era for Albanian football.