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Defeated Albania see France as favourites but beatable

232   //    12 Jun 2016, 00:04 IST
Football Soccer - Albania v Switzerland - EURO 2016 - Group A - Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens, France - 11/6/16 Albania's Taulant Xhaka (L) at the end of the game REUTERS/John Sibley Livepic
Football Soccer - Albania v Switzerland - EURO 2016 - Group A - Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens, France - 11/6/16Albania's Taulant Xhaka (L) at the end of the gameREUTERS/John SibleyLivepic

By Francesco Guarascio

LENS, France (Reuters) - Albania will draw confidence from their friendly defeat of France a year ago when they face the Euro 2016 hosts on Wednesday after losing their opening match to Switzerland.

At their first match in a major tournament, Albania made a timid start, conceding in five minutes to Switzerland, having captain Lorik Cana sent off and missing several chances to equalise.

"We needed to make a good start and that wasn't the case," coach Giovanni de Biasi told a news conference.

He said he took heart from past results against France, their next Group A opponents on Wednesday

"Clearly France are the overwhelming favourites. We will compete. We played twice in friendlies: once we won and once we drew," de Biasi said, referring to Albania's 1-0 defeat of France last June and a 1-1 draw in November 2014. "It will be hard for us, but nothing is impossible."

The Italian coach said that Albania, who also face Romania on June 19, might still be able to go through even if they lost, given that four third-place sides will reach the knock-out rounds.

"Yes, you can go through with three points but with four you have a better chance," he added.

De Biasi refused to complain about the dismissal of his skipper Cana after two bookings in quick succession on Saturday.

"Unfortunately it was a very fair sending-off," De Biasi said.

"It's a pity," said Cana, who had been looking forward to a return to Marseille, where he used to play, for the clash with France.

Cana said he felt the referee could have blown for a foul in his favour in the action that saw him fall to the ground and handle the ball, triggering his second booking.

"I took a risk. I hoped that the referee may have sanctioned the little push that made me fall," said the player who will now miss the match against France.

(Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Clare Fallon)

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