13 Nov Kosovo: Who are England’s next Euro 2020 opponents?
As England prepare to host Kosovo in Tuesday’s Euro 2020 Qualifier, we look at the’Brazil of the Balkans’ emergence as a footballing nation and they turned into the in-form side that is international of Europe.
A nation’s development
Kosovo, which has a population of 1.8m folks, had to campaign for nearly a decade before they were admitted as FIFA and UEFA members in 2016 following their announcement of independence from Serbia in February 2008.
Many nations, including Serbia do not recognise sovereignty and the issue continues to back its head.
Officials said authorities in Kosovo detained eight Australian fans that were planning to fly a drone using an banner throughout Saturday’s Euro 2020 Qualifier between the 2 sides. Six men and two women were arrested near the capital of Pristina and police seized a drone, a Serbian flag and a banner that read”Kosovo is Serbia,” and also fireworks and a knife.
Having played friendlies because 2010, Kosovo started playing FIFA members with their first official game with a goalless draw with Haiti.
Kosovo played their first competitive global soccer match in September 2016 – a 1-1 draw against Finland at a World Cup 2018 qualifier and have taken part in Euro 2020 qualification and currently the UEFA Nations League.
Bernard Challandes may have been a household name before this news conference that was enthusiastic, but he’s got the golden touch in regards to Kosovo.
The 68-year-old has been given the reins and also has turned effects. He had no playing career to speak of, playing in the Swiss championships, but has had a profession that is protracted.
He has handled Armenia but resigned following failure to qualify for Euro 2016, has taken control of the U21s of Switzerland and has been in charge of a range of Swiss teams, including Young Boys.
He won the Swiss league using FC Zurich and the team made their debut the season. He won the Cup in 2011 using Sion.
Challandes’ coming as Albert Bunjaki’s successor in 2018 has turned the fortunes of Kosovo around. They are unbeaten winning 10 of these, and are in with a shot of making the finals of next summer, with all enthusiasts dubbing them the’Brazil of the Balkans’.
Their form enabled them to high their own Nations League team, which means they’re guaranteed a play-off place, and they are also horses at England’s Group A, with already conquered the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
A 2-1 home victory over the Czech Republic in the weekend made it 15 games unbeaten, the longest such run in Europe.
They are currently 120th in the FIFA world rankings, Bulgaria are 60th and however Czech Republic are 43rd.
One of the most recognisable names is that of Sheffield Wednesday striker Atdhe Nuhiu, who is a goal man with his 6ft height and power.
Bersant Celina will also be a face. Championship side Swansea having started out in Manchester City, he plays.
Reporter’s view – Mark McAdam and Kaveh Solhekol
Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol was Bernard Challandes’ pre-match news conference: Below are his thoughts…
The importance of Kosovo cannot be overestimated. There’s a special bond between the countries ever since UK-backed NATO bombing against targets in 1999 contributed to independence.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is a figure there and also Tonibler and Tony were a few of the most popular names for baby boys in Kosovo.
He just wanted to talk about soccer although manager Bernard Challandes was asked regarding the special bond between Kosovo and the UK. He’s hoping his game program will”upset” England and that he believes his players won’t be underestimated by their competitors.
There ought to not be any danger of this. Gareth Southgate is currently anticipating this to be his side’s toughest test so far in qualifying. Kosovo have not lost for nearly two years and also their 15-match unbeaten run would be the greatest in European football.
Whatever the result, spare a thought for the guy who will sit alongside Challandes again to interpret his words into Albanian. Challandes speaks English so much and so quickly his translator has to regularly stop him in order to have a chance. Let us hope England’s defenders have a more quiet night at St. Mary’s.
Sky Sports News reporter Mark McAdam also talked to Kosovo gamers Bersant Celina and Elbasan Rashani to get their thoughts ahead of the England clash…
Three years back, a Kosovo side wasn’t there is. And boy have they announced themselves into the entire world. Unbeaten in 15 matches over two decades, their rise over the worldwide stage is nothing short of awesome. Up next a game the players describe as their”largest ever” – England.
They’ll face a group they watch every week at the Premier League. Daunted? No. Worried? No. Excited? Yes. But for them this is just one more game.
I met with a participant dubbed the brain of the Kosovo team, two of the stars, Bersant Celina top of the Championship using Swansea, and his roommate Elbasan Rashani, called Elba, now playing in Norway.
They have been relaxed and focused on the job at hand. As it was college homework their notes to the game from the supervisor comprised scribbled diagrams to the side. You would not have thought they had been 24 hours off from playing at the biggest game in their own lives.
We chatted about everything from household life to their manager and club football, who they say is exactly the same in front of the media because he’s in the room. Passionate is still an understatement. Who’d dare to argue with him? He is masterminding the unthinkable.
The two lads grin with each response , they joke with each other when their English is not quite as good as they think that it should be, but they can hold their own. They know more about their country’s history, they have seen the films, listened to these tales, relived the moments by using their own grandparents.
The proud loved ones arguably get more from the success of the team, seeing their kids and grandchildren playing for the nation they had been forced to flee. The players themselves take this in their stride. They are fully aware, respectful and humble of what this means. However, for them it’s just another game.