Kosovo: Who are England’s next Euro 2020 opponents?

As England prepare to sponsor Kosovo at the Euro 2020 Qualifier of Tuesday, we look at the’Brazil of the Balkans’ development as a footballing country and the way they became Europe’s side.
A nation’s development
Kosovo, which has a population of 1.8m people, needed to campaign for almost a decade before they were admitted as FIFA and UEFA associates in 2016 following their announcement of independence from Serbia in February 2008.
Many countries, including Serbia do not recognise Kosovan sovereignty and the issue continues to rear its head.
Officials said police in Kosovo arrested eight European fans that were planning to fly a drone with a pro-Serbia banner during Saturday’s Euro 2020 Qualifier between the 2 sides. Six men and two women were detained close to the capital of Pristina and authorities captured a drone, a Serbian flag and a banner that read”Kosovo is Serbia,” and also fireworks along with a knife.
Having played unofficial friendlies because 2010, Kosovo began 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 in a World Cup 2018 qualifier and have participate in currently and the UEFA Nations League Euro 2020 eligibility.
Head coach
Bernard Challandes may not have been a family name until this news conference, but he has the golden touch when it comes to managing Kosovo.
The 68-year-old has turned effects and was handed the reins. He had no playing career to talk, playing in the leagues that are lower that are Swiss, but has experienced a lengthy career that is managerial.
He has also handled Armenia but resigned to qualify for Euro 2016, has taken control of the U21s of Switzerland and has been in control of a range of clubs, including Young Boys.
He won the Swiss league using FC Zurich in 2009 and the team made their debut the season. The Swiss Cup was also won by him in 2011 together with Sion.
Recent form
Challandes’ advent as Albert Bunjaki’s successor in 2018 has turned Kosovo’s fortunes around. They are unbeaten winning 10 of them, and are in with a real shot of making next summer’s finals, with fans dubbing them ‘Brazil of the Balkans’.
Their form allowed them to high their Nations League team, so they are guaranteed a place, and they are also horses at England’s Group A, having already beaten the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
A 2-1 home triumph over the Czech Republic at the weekend made it 15 games unbeaten, the longest such run in Europe.
They are now 120th at the FIFA world rankings, Bulgaria are 60th and while, for context, Czech Republic are all 43rd.
Star player
Among the names is that of Sheffield Wednesday striker Atdhe Nuhiu, who’s a useful target man using brute strength along with his 6ft 6ins elevation.
Bersant Celina will be a face. He plays Championship side Swansea having started out in Manchester City.
Reporter’s opinion – Mark McAdam along with Kaveh Solhekol
Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol was at Bernard Challandes’ pre-match news seminar: Here are his thoughts…
The importance of Kosovo playing against England cannot be overestimated. There’s a unique bond between the countries since NATO bombing against Serbian targets in 1999 contributed to independence.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is a revered figure there and Tonibler and Tony were some of the most well-known names for baby boys in Kosovo.
He wanted to discuss football although manager Bernard Challandes was requested about the special bond between the united kingdom and Kosovo. He is expecting his game program will”disturb” England and he thinks his players will not be underestimated with their competitors.
There should be no danger of this. Gareth Southgate is currently anticipating this to be the toughest test of his side so far in qualifying. Kosovo have not lost for nearly two decades and their unbeaten run would be the greatest in European soccer.
No matter the result, spare a thought for the guy who will sit alongside Challandes again in the press conference to translate his words into Albanian. Challandes speaks English so much and so fast to be able to have a chance to translate his 25, his translator has to frequently stop him. Let us hope England’s defenders have a more quiet night in St. Mary’s.
Sky Sports News reporter Mark McAdam also spoke to Kosovo gamers Bersant Celina and Elbasan Rashani to get their ideas ahead of the England battle…
Three years back, there was not a Kosovo national sidethere is. And boy have they declared themselves. Unbeaten in 15 games over two decades, their meteoric rise on the stage is just short of miraculous. Up next a match the players describe as their”largest ever” – England.
They will be facing a team full of star players that they watch every week at the Premier League. Daunted? No. Worried? No. Excited? Yes. However, for them that is just one more game.
I met with two of the stars, Bersant Celina top of the Championship using Swansea, a player dubbed also his roommate Elbasan Rashani, along with the brain of the Kosovo group, called Elba acting in Norway.
They were relaxed and concentrated on the job in hand. Like it was college assignments, their notes for the match from the supervisor comprised scribbled diagrams to the side. You would not have believed off from playing in the biggest game of their lives, they were 24 hours.
We chatted to their manager and golf soccer, that they say is the exact same in front of the media because he’s in the dressing area. Passionate is an understatement. Who’d dare to contend with him? He’s currently masterminding the unthinkable.
The two lads smile with every answer, they joke with each other when their English is not quite as great as they think it ought to be but they could more than hold their own. They know about the history of their country, they’ve seen the movies, listened to these tales, relived the minutes by using their own grandparents.
The proud family members shortly gain more from the victory of the team, seeing grandchildren and their kids playing for the nation. The players take all this into their stride. They are modest, respectful and aware of what this means. But for them, again, it is simply one more game.

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