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Dream State

March 23, 2011

If you’re anything like me you’ll spend hours of the working day daydreaming, and sleepless nights pondering fantasy scenarios. If you’re unfortunate enough to be very like me, these thoughts revolve around an unhealthy obsession with obscure football related hypotheses.

Ever wonder what the Kosovar national team would look like? I do. I mean, they do have one, but it’s not currently recognised by FIFA. Until it is, they’re unable to play any part in competitive and meaningful football. This doesn’t stop me though. Despite declaring independence from Serbia in 2008 and receiving instant recognition from a number of member states, FIFA have declined their application, and Kosovo have only played one game, against Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax. Even before independence, they made fleeting appearances on the unofficial international scene, playing the likes of Northern Cyprus, Sapmi, Monaco, the Albanian and Turkish B teams, and Saudi Arabia.

Their unrecognised status means that any Kosovar footballers of international quality generally tend to represent Albania, with 92% of Kosovans being ethnic Albanians. The Kosovo War in 1998-99 also saw up to 1 million people leaving the region and seeking refuge across Europe. Those that didn’t settle in neighbouring Albania, Macedonia and other former Yugoslav states sought asylum in countries with liberal immigration policies. The largest populations of Kosovar/Albanian diaspora could be found in Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. To get a flavour of what the Kosovar National football team would potentially resemble, these are the countries that need to be investigated. In fact many of the more prominent and promising players for these teams were born in Kosovo or to Kosovan parents.

What I’ve compiled below is a list of players qualified to represent Kosovo in the event that they should be granted FIFA approved status. They have been listed by the nationality they have chosen to represent for their football career. Many will have been residents in their adopted country since infancy, and with identity being such an individual thing, it’s impossible to know how strongly they would feel the pull of their homeland. Former West Ham man Valon Behrami has expressed a desire to play for Kosovo should the opportunity arise, and as far as I know, in the event of Kosovo being given the green light by FIFA & UEFA, players already capped by other countries would be able to switch allegiance.

Albania

  • Lorik Cana: Age 27 / Born: Prishtina / Position: Midfield / Club: Galatasaray (Turkey) / Caps: 46
  • Armend Dallku: Age 27 / Born: Vushtrri / Position: Centre / Back Club: Vorskla Poltava (Ukraine) / Caps: 45
  • Debatik Curri: Age 27 / Born: Prishtina / Position: Centre /Left Back / Club: Gencerbirigli Ankara (Turkey) / Caps: 32
  • Ahmed Januzi: Age 22 / Born: Vushtrri / Position: Centre Forward / Club: Vorskla Poltava (Ukraine) / Caps: 1
  • Bezart Berisha: Age 25 / Born: Prishtina /Position: Centre Forward / Club: Arminia Bielefeld (Germany) / Caps: 14

Sweden

  • Emir Bajrami: Age 23 / Born: Prishtina / Position: Left Wing / Club: Twente Enschede (Holland) / Caps: 7
  • Agon Mehmeti: Age 21 / Born: Podujeva / Position: Striker / Club: Malmo (Sweden) / Caps: 8 U-21
  • Astrit Ajdarevic: Age 20 / Born: Prishtina / Position: Midfield / Club: IFK Norrkoping (Sweden) / Caps: 13 U-19, 15 U-17
  • Dardan Rexhepi: Age 19 / Born: Lund (Sweden) / Position: Striker / Club: Malmo (Sweden) / Caps: 2 U-19

Finland

  • Perparim Hetemaj: Age  24 / Born: Skenderaj / Position: Left Midfield / Club: Brescia (Italy) /Caps: 2
  • Mehmet Hetemaj: Age 23  /Born: Skenderaj / Position: Midfield / Club: AlninoLeffe (Italy) / Caps: 2
  • Denis Abdulahi: Age 20 /Born: Mitrovica / Position: Defensive Midfield / Club: Orebro (Sweden) / Caps: 1
  • Shefki Kuqi: Age 34 / Born: Vushtrri / Position: Striker / Club: Newcastle (England) / Caps: 62

Switzerland

  • Valon Behrami: Age 25 / Born: Mitrovica / Position: Right Wing / Club: Fiorentina (Italy) / Caps: 28
  • Xherdan Shaqiri: Age 19 / Born: Gjilan / Position: Wing / Club: Basel (Switzerland) / Caps: 10
  • Albert Bunjaku: Age 27 / Born: Gjilan / Position: Striker / Club: Nuremberg (Germany) / Caps: 6
  • Granit Xhaka: Age 18 / Born: Gjilan / Position: Midfield / Club: Basel (Switzerland) / Caps: 1 U-21
  • Taulant Xhaka: Age 19 / Born: Prishtina / Position: Left Back / Club: Basel (Switzerland) / Caps: 4 U-20
  • Shkëlzen Gashi: Age 22 / Born: Kosovo / Position: Midfielder / Club: Neuchatel Xamax (Switzerland) / Caps: 9 U-21
  • Beg Ferati: Age 24 / Born: Kosovo / Position: Centre Back / Club: Freiburg (Germany) / Caps: 12 U-21
  • Florian Berisha: Age 21 / Born: Kosovo / Position: Midfielder / Club: FC Sion (Switzerland) /Caps: 3 U-20
  • Endogan Adili: Age 16 / Born: Brugg (Switzerland) / Position: Striker / Club: Grasshopper (Switzerland) / Caps: 3 U-17
  • Amir Abrashi: Age 20 / Born: Bischoffszell (Switzerland) / Position: Midfield / Club: Grasshopper (Switzerland) / Caps: 6 U-21

Norway

  • Albert Berbatovci: Age 22 / Born: Prishtina / Position: Midfield / Club: Ranheim (Norway) / Caps: 2 U-19
  • Adrian Gashi: Age 29 / Born: Gjakova / Position: Midfield / Club: Helsingborg (Sweden) / Caps: 7
  • Mergim Hereqi: Age 18 / Born: Prishtina / Position: Striker / Club: Lillestrom (Norway) / Caps: 5 U-17

Germany

  • Faton Toski: Age 24 / Born: Gjilan / Position: Left Wing / Club: Bochum (Germany) / Caps: 5 U-19

Australia

  • Labinot Haliti: Age 25 / Born: Prishtina / Position: Midfield / Club: Newcastle Jets (Australia) / Caps: 6 U-23

Holland

  • Shkodran Metaj: Age 23 / Born: Pec / Position: Left Wing / Club: Groningen (Holland) / Caps: U-21

Kosovo

  • Besnik Salihi: Age 19 / Born: Kosovo / Position: Defensive Allrounder / Club: Young Boys Berne (Switzerland)
  • Etrit Berisha: Age 22 / Born: Kosovo / Position: Goalkeeper / Club: Kalmar (Sweden)
  • Avni Pepa: Age 22 / Born: Kosovo / Position: Centre Back / Club: IK Start (Sweden)
  • Anel Raskaj: Age 21 / Born: Pizren / Position: Midfield / Club: Halmstads (Sweden) / Caps 2
  • Kujtim Balaj: Age 20 / Born: Sweden / Position: Striker / Club: Halmstads (Sweden)
  • Scipon Bektasi: Age 20 / Born: Kosovo / Position: Striker / Club: Freiburg (Germany) / Caps 1
  • Valdet Rama: Age 23 / Born: Mitrovica / Position: Full-back / Club: Orebro (Sweden)
  • Rexhe Bytyci: Age 23 / Born: Istok / Position: Striker / Club: SV Horn (Austria)
  • Ajet Shehu: Age 20 / Born: Kosovo / Position: Centre Back / Club: Tottenham (England) / Caps 1
  • Kristian Nushi: Age 29 / Born: Klina / Position: Full-back / Club: St. Gallen (Switzerland) / Caps: 2 Albania, 5 Kosovo
  • Samir Ujkani: Age 22 / Born: Vushtrri / Position: Goalkeeper / Club: Novara/Palermo (Italy) / Caps : 4 Albania, 2 Kosovo

Not a bad pool of players to select from for a country with a population of under 2 million. They might not have the required star quality of a Jovetic or Vucinic of Montenegro or Hamsik of Slovakia, that might catapult a minnow into a major tournament, but in the likes of Behrami, Cana and Bajrami they have experience at the top level, and in Shaqiri one of the most exciting teenagers in Europe. There is a young batch of Kosovans coming through the Swiss age groups, and in Scandinavia that could well form the basis of a potential national team. Whether this will ever happen remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, whatever the outcome, it won’t stop me doing pointless things like this.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Football CH permalink
    October 5, 2011 7:01 pm

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