Albania fans’ group told to stay away from WCup qualifier

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TIRANA, Albania – Albanian police have told a group of home fans to stay away from the World Cup soccer qualifier against Italy on Monday.

A statement Sunday said the Illyria Elite group was banned from the stadium in northern Albania after "problems" at Albania's game in Italy in March. Italy won that game 2-0 which saw flares thrown on the field by a group calling itself Illyrian Elite.

Police also said they were taking extra security steps in the light of concerns over what they called "extremist and violent individuals or groups." The measures include enhanced checks at border crossing points with neighboring Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro, along with extra security at Durres port and Tirana International Airport.

The police statement said they would prevent entry into the country of "individuals with tendencies of radicalism or extremism," but gave no further details.

Monday's game will be played at Shkoder, 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of capital Tirana. Another Group G qualifier against Israel was moved from Shkoder to Elbasan last year over security concerns.

With one round left, Spain has won Group G and second-place Italy is seven points ahead of Albania, which cannot qualify.

Albania is coached by Christian Panucci, an Italian who predicted a tough match after Italy was held at home by Macedonia last weekend.

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Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lsemini

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