As England ready to sponsor Kosovo in the Euro 2020 Qualifier of Tuesday, we look at the’Brazil of the Balkans’ emergence they became Europe’s side and as a country.
The emergence of a country
Kosovo, with a population of 1.8m people, had to campaign for nearly a decade before they were acknowledged as FIFA and UEFA members in 2016 following their declaration of independence from Serbia in February 2008.
Some countries, such as Serbia, still do not reevaluate sovereignty and the problem continues to back its head in football.
Officials said authorities in Kosovo arrested eight Australian fans that were planning to fly a drone with a pro-Serbia banner during Saturday’s Euro 2020 Qualifier between the two sides. Six men and two women were detained close to the capital of Pristina and police seized a drone, with a Serbian flag and a banner which read”Kosovo is Serbia,” along with fireworks along with a knife.
Having played friendlies because 2010, Kosovo started playing with FIFA members with their first official game with a goalless draw with Haiti.
Kosovo played their first competitive football match in September 2016 – a 1-1 draw against Finland and have participate in the UEFA Nations League and now Euro 2020 eligibility.
Bernard Challandes might not have been a family name until this information conference, but he has the golden touch when it comes to handling Kosovo.
The 68-year-old has turned effects around and has been given the reins. He had no playing career to talk, playing at the Swiss leagues that are lower, but has experienced a protracted profession.
He has been in charge of a plethora of Swiss clubs has taken charge of Switzerland’s U21s and also has handled Armenia but resigned to meet the requirements for Euro 2016.
He won the league using FC Zurich in 2009 and the club made their debut in the Champions League group stages the season. He also won the Cup in 2011 together using Sion.
Challandes’ coming as the successor in 2018 of Albert Bunjaki has turned Kosovo’s fortunes around. They are unbeaten in 15 games, winning 10 of these, and so are in with a shot of making next summer’s finals, with all fans dubbing them ‘Brazil of the Balkans’.
Their form allowed their Nations League class, which means they are ensured a place to be topped by them, and they’re dark horses at the Group A of England, having conquered Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
A 2-1 home victory over the Czech Republic at the weekend made it 15 games unbeaten, the longest such run in Europe.
They are 120th at the FIFA world rankings, Bulgaria are 60th and however, for context, Czech Republic are 43rd.
Among the most recognisable names is that of Sheffield Wednesday striker Atdhe Nuhiu, who’s a helpful target man with his 6ft height along with power.
Bersant Celina will be a familiar face. Championship side Swansea having begun at Manchester City, he plays.
Reporter’s view – Kaveh Solhekol and Mark McAdam
Sky Sports News writer Kaveh Solhekol was Bernard Challandes’ pre-match news seminar: Below are his ideas…
Kosovo playing England’s importance cannot be overestimated. There’s a special bond between the countries ever because UK-backed NATO bombing against Serbian targets in 1999 contributed to independence.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is a figure there and also Tonibler and Tony were some of the most popular names for baby boys in Kosovo.
He just wanted to discuss soccer although manager Bernard Challandes was requested regarding the bond between the UK and Kosovo. He is hoping his game plan will”disturb” England and he believes his players won’t be underestimated by their opponents.
There ought to not be any danger of this. Gareth Southgate is expecting this to be his side’s toughest test up to now in qualifying. Kosovo haven’t lost for nearly two decades and their unbeaten run is the greatest in European football.
Whatever the result, spare a thought for the guy who will sit alongside Challandes again in the news conference to translate his words into Albanian. Challandes speaks English so much and so fast his translator has to frequently stop him in order to have a chance. Let’s hope England’s defenders have a quieter night in St. Mary’s.
Sky Sports News reporter Mark McAdam also talked to Kosovo players Bersant Celina and Elbasan Rashani to get their ideas ahead of the England battle…
Three decades ago, a Kosovo national side wasn’t there is. And boy have they announced themselves into the world. Unbeaten in 15 matches over two years, their meteoric rise on the stage is nothing short of miraculous. Up next a game the players describe as their”largest ever” – England.
They’ll be facing a group they see every week at the Premier League. Daunted? No. Worried? No. Excited? Yes. But for them this is just another game.
I met with two of the stars, Bersant Celina a participant dubbed the Kosovo team’s mind, and also his roommate Elbasan Rashani, known as Elba playing in Norway.
They have been relaxed and focused on the task at hand. As though it was school assignments, their notes to the game from the supervisor comprised diagrams into the side. You wouldn’t have thought they were 24 hours off from playing in the biggest game in their own lives.
We chatted about everything from household life to club football and their charismatic manager, because he’s in the room who they say is exactly the exact same in the front of the media. Passionate is an understatement. Who would dare to contend with him? He is currently masterminding the unthinkable.
If their English isn’t as great as they think it should be, Both lads smile with every response they joke with each other, but they can hold their own. They know about their country’s history, they’ve seen the films, listened to these stories, relived the moments.
The proud family members arguably gain more from the victory of the team, seeing grandchildren and their children playing to the country. The players take this in their stride. They are respectful, humble and completely aware of what this suggests. But for these it is just one more game.