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Elbasan Arena (Albanian: Elbasan Arena, formerly known as Ruzhdi Bizhuta) is a multi-purpose stadium in Elbasan, Albania. The stadium was completed in 1967 and has been the home ground of KF Elbasani ever since. The stadium was under reconstruction and was officially inaugurated on 8 October 2014 in time for the match against Denmark, valid for the qualifiers of UEFA Euro 2016, with total capacity of 12,800,[3] making it the 2nd largest in Albania, after the Loro Boriçi Stadium in Shkodër.[4]

Elbasan Arena
Elbasan Arena stadium in Elbasan, Albania 2.jpg
LocationSheshi Ruzhdi Bizhuta 1, 3001 Elbasan, Albania
Coordinates41°06′57.15″N 20°05′31.17″E / 41.1158750°N 20.0919917°E / 41.1158750; 20.0919917Coordinates: 41°06′57.15″N 20°05′31.17″E / 41.1158750°N 20.0919917°E / 41.1158750; 20.0919917
OperatorFSHF
Capacity12.800[1]
Record attendance12.800 Albania vs. Denmark (11/10/2014, Euro 2016)[2]
Field size105 m × 68 m (344 ft × 223 ft)
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Opened1967
Renovated2001, 2014
Tenants
KF Elbasani (1967- present)
Albania national football team (2014-present)

HistoryEdit

Elbasan Arena first opened in 1967 under the name of Ruzhdi Bizhuta Stadion who was one of KF Elbasani’s most famous players. Constructed in the 1960s, the ground was built to replace the club’s former ground which had slowly become a set of outdated facilities.

For the majority of Ruzhdi Bizhuta’s history, the stadium has been used exclusively by KF Elbasani but in January 2014 it was announced that the ground would host Albania’s qualification matches of Euro 2016. This decision was taken by the Albanian Football Federation in order to allow the usual national stadium Qemal Stafa to undergo extensive renovation work.

2014 ReconstructionEdit

Before Elbasan Arena could host the matches however it would have to undergo refurbishment itself, and in total over €5.5 million[5] invested into the stadium. Work to bring up the stadium to UEFA’s required standards began in February 2014, and finished 7 months later in October.

 
Cheering at Elbasan Arena

Numerous improvements were made to the stadium including the installation of new floodlights, 12,500 new plastic seats, new changing rooms, executive seating areas, new scoreboards, and to top it all of a brand new playing surface was laid.

The stadium then reopened on 8 October when Albania hosted Denmark[6] in their second qualification match of the campaign. Played out in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,800 – the record attendance to date, Albania earned a 1-1 draw against their more favoured opposition.

InaugurationEdit

The opening ceremony of the stadium was held on 11 October 2014,[7] with a historical exhibition match against Denmark. Playing for the first time at the recently refurbished Elbasan Arena, the hosts grabbed a 38th-minute lead through Ermir Lenjani's deflected strike but Denmark substitute Lasse Vibe slotted home an 81st-minute equaliser as the Group I rivals went joint-top.

Albania1–1Denmark
Ermir Lenjani   38' Lasse Vibe   81'
Elbasan Arena, Elbasan
Attendance: 12,800
Referee: Viktor Kassai
Albania (4–3–3):
GK 1 Etrit Berisha
RB 4 Elseid Hysaj
CB 5 Lorik Cana
CB 15 Mërgim Mavraj
LB 7 Ansi Agolli
DM 13 Burim Kukeli
CM 22 Amir Abrashi
CM 14 Taulant Xhaka   82'
RW 2 Andi Lila   87'
LW 3 Ermir Lenjani
CF 19 Bekim Balaj   69'
Substitutions:
GK 12 Orges Shehi
GK 23 Alban Hoxha
CB 6 Debatik Curri   87'
RW 8 Herolind Shala
FW 9 Edmond Kapllani
LM 10 Valdet Rama   82'
RM 11 Emiljano Vila
FW 16 Sokol Cikalleshi   69'
CM 17 Alban Meha
FW 18 Hamdi Salihi
CM 20 Ergys Kaçe
MF 21 Armando Vajushi
Manager:
Gianni De Biasi
Denmark (4–3–3):
GK 1 Kasper Schmeichel
RB 2 Peter Ankersen
CB 3 Simon Kjær
CB 5 Andreas Bjelland
LB 7 Nicolai Boilesen
RM 9 Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
CM 10 William Kvist
LM 11 Christian Eriksen
RW 12 Yussuf Poulsen
LW 19 Michael Krohn-Dehli
CF 23 Nicklas Bendtner
Manager:
Morten Olsen


ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://footballtripper.com/elbasan-arena-ruzhdi-bizhuta-albania/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ . Union of European Football Associations http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2016/matches/round=2000446/match=2013865/index.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ http://footballtripper.com/elbasan-arena-ruzhdi-bizhuta-albania/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ From Worldstadiums.com
  5. ^ . Albanian Construction Portal http://acp.al/profil_projekt.php?id=135. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ http://www.panorama.com.al/shqiperi-danimarke-ndeshja-e-pare-ne-elbasan-arena-ja-cmimi-i-biletave/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Albanian Football Association. Archived from the original on 16 December 2017. Retrieved 26 June 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)