The unofficial debut of Kosovo
The Adem Jashari stadium in Mitrovice was the witness of the match between the teams of Kosovo and Haiti. This friendly match, meant the first of the former Serbian nation as an independent republic. Even so, FIFA put a series of conditions on Kosovo's friendlies between them, the impediment of wearing national symbols and the interpretation of national anthems. This is the first step so that this country is also recognized by UEFA and can play official matches, as has happened recently with Gibraltar. Although this is a different case due to the level of players that this new nation could select, Here at Hanging for Soccer we explain who they are and the change that this would generate in various European teams.
This small country located on the Balkan Peninsula is an autonomous province of Serbia, which unilaterally declared its independence on 17 February 2008. It is recognized as a State by 108 of the 193 members of the United Nations. Most of the Kosovar population is ethnic Albanians who are supporters of independence, however northern Kosovo, where is Mitrovice, It is inhabited mostly by ethnic Serbs who deny Kosovar independence and prefer to continue being part of the Serbian State.
Among the population there are several positions that differ quite a lot from each other: those who think that Kosovo is an artificial state and should never leave Serbia, another that defends the independence of Kosovo to form a new independent State and those that proclaim Kosovar independence as the first step to end up annexing Albania and create a great Albano-Kosovar State.
For this Kosovar debut, coach Albert Bunjaki decided not to summon players to play in other national teams so as not to create conflicts with other federations, but they decided to invite the young Manchester United star to the game, Adnan Januzaj. Both the president of the Football Federation, Fadil Vokrri, how Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi pressured the player's environment to accept the invitation, in the end Januzaj's father declined the invitation.
Surprising names appeared on Bunjaki's list like: Samir Ujkani (Palermo goalkeeper and recently international with Albania), Ardian Gashi (Norwegian international), Fanol Perdedaj (German U21 international), Ilir Azemi (Greuther Fürth forward), Albert Bunjaku (Kaiserlautern striker and World Cup with Switzerland in the 2010) and Bersant Celina (striker for the Manchester City affiliate and international in the Norwegian youth teams), although perhaps the most remarkable thing about the call was that there was only one player from the local league, el portero del Prishtina Kushtrim Mushica. The match ended with a draw 0, despite the dominance in the game and the Kosovar chances that did not serve to defeat the Caribbean team.
If in the end the highest levels of football decided to accept Kosovo as an official member, it would affect quite a few players and national teams that now have players who could represent the new national team. The case would be more similar to that of its neighbor Montenegro than that of the last team accepted by UEFA, Gibraltar. Several European teams, mainly Switzerland, would be affected, Albania and the Scandinavian countries (Finland, Norway and Sweden), States to which Kosovar refugees used to migrate.
It is curious that the nations of the extinct Yugoslavia do not have Kosovar players in their national teams, It is partly due to the fact that Kosovar players born in the territories of the former Balkan republic have Albanian ancestors and defend this nation. Here is a small sample of the players who could represent Kosovo in the future, indicating which selection they defend now:
- Switzerland: Valon Behrami, Almen Abdi, xherdan Shaqiri, Beg Ferati, Granit Xhaka, Taulant Xhaka o Frederic Veseli.
- Finland: Mehmet Hetemaj o Përparim Hetemaj.
- Norway: Valon Berisha, Veton Berisha, Elbasan Rashani o Zymer Bytyqi.
- Sweden: Astrit Adjarevic, Valmir Berisha or Emir Bajrami.
- Belgium: Adnan Januzaj.
- Montenegro: Fatos Beciraj
- Albania: Fathers Berisha, Lorik Cana, exile Mavraj, Ermir Lenjani, Exile Brahimi, Shkelzen Gashi, Migjen Basha, Valdet Rama or Vullnet Basha.
Some of these players have already declared their intentions if Kosovo would act as an official team., Lorik Cana captain of Albania has stated that both Kosovo and Albania should unite and play as one team.. Granit Xhaka, for his part, declared during his visit to Tirana to play a qualifying match for Brazil 2014 Switzerland, which was an exciting visit for him because he visits his nation, which earned him a great criticism from the Swiss press.
For example Shaqiri wears three flags on his boots (Switzerland, Albania y Kosovo) and in the celebration of the last Champions League he wore a flag with the Swiss and Kosovar emblems. As you can see, this is only the beginning of the path of the Kosovar team and in Hanging for Football we have told you about it, so that you will not be surprised in the future to see Kosovo in a final phase of some great championship.