Croat Kuze named new Albania coach

TIRANA - Croat Josip Kuze was named Albania coach on Tuesday to replace Dutchman Arie Haan who stepped down last month because of the team's poor results.

"Kuze will start work this week and he will live in Tirana the whole time," football federation president Armand Duka told reporters, clarifying a new condition the Croatian had agreed to unlike the country's previous national team coaches.

The Albanian soccer federation's executive committee chose 56-year-old Kuze after considering Rapid Vienna's Austrian coach Peter Pacult and NK Osijek's Croat coach Ilija Loncarevic.

Kuze has a one-year contract with an option to extend it for 1-1/2 years.

Former Netherlands midfielder Haan, 60, had replaced Croatian Otto Baric in December 2007. The 76-year-old Baric suggested Kuze to the Albanian federation.

Kuze, formerly a defender with Dinamo Zagreb, takes up his post having coached club sides at home as well as in Bosnia, Germany and Japan. He was also Rwanda coach in 2007.

His first test with Albania will be a World Cup qualifier against Portugal in Tirana on June 6.

Albania are fifth in Group One level on six points with Portugal and Sweden, although they have played more games, and trail leaders Denmark and Hungary who each have 13 points.