Thursday, 27 February 2014

Experienced internationals in Kosovo squad for Haiti game but Blatter says no to nationality switch

Albania goalkeeper Samir Ujkani and Swiss striker Albert Bunjaku are two of several big name players who've accepted the call up for Kosovo’s friendly with Haiti next week.
Bunjaku played in the 2012 World Cup

However FIFA president Sepp Blatter has privately told the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK) that should they ever join the organisation players capped by other nations such as Xherdan Shaqiri cannot be called up.

The Haiti match, Kosovo’s first since FIFA permitted them to play their members, has been heavily documented after Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj rejected the offer to play in Mitrovica on Wednesday.

However Palermo goalkeeper Ujkani, a member of Sweden’s Euro 2012 squad, and Kaiserslautern captain Bunjaku have accepted the call up from the Football Federation of Kosovo.

Bunjaku played at the 2010 World Cup for Switzerland against Chile and teammate Enis Alushi, who was born in Mitrovica, is also in the squad which will be co-managed by former England assistant manager Tord Grip.

A big name who was set to feature against Haiti is Sweden midfielder Emir Bajrami. The Panathinaikos player, however, won't feature having picked up an injury.

A number of players from the Norwegian Tippeligaen have been called up, most notably Flamur Kastrati who won the 2013 title with Strømsgodset and was on course for a Norway cap after progressing through the youth teams.

Sandnes Ulf pair Avni Pepa and Anel Raskaj are also included with the latter having played 90 minutes in a 3-2 defeat in Kosovo’s last international against Albania in 2010.

Basle defender Taulant Xhaka was rumoured to feature but the FFK have said they didn't bother approaching any Swiss players currently involved in the national team with the World Cup in Brazil on the horizon. 
Shaqiri couldn't switch

Norway international Valon Berisha, who is enjoying a fine Europa League campaign with Red Bull Salzburg, was also tipped to play but is no longer likely to.

As the match isn’t between two FIFA nations players previously capped for other countries, such as Bajrami and Bunjaku, can play. However Sepp Blatter has privately told the FFK that should they ever join FIFA this will not be allowed.

The rules state that if a ‘new’ country is formed and join FIFA then players capped by the nation that went before it can switch allegiance (in this case Serbia) but not those who've played for other nations (such as Albania and Switzerland).

As a result Blatter has said that players such as Granit Xhaka, Valon Behrami and Shaqiri, as well as Bajrami and Bunjaku, would never be able to switch nationality and play for Kosovo.

The FFK asked for a special intervention should they ever join but Blatter was firm. A cynical view would suggest that he doesn’t want his home nation Switzerland decimated by such a ruling.

However with Januzaj turning down the request and Shaqiri privately telling friends he would never stop playing for Switzerland perhaps the news is not as damaging as it could be.

Regardless Kosovo are a long way off FIFA membership and games such as the one against Haiti look like the only action they will see in the immediate future.

The choice of Mitrovica by the FFK as the location for the Haiti game, which has a strong Serbian stronghold in the north, has left the Football Association of Serbia unhappy but helpless.
A poster for the game

The city is divided with Partizan Kosovska Mitrovica from the north competing in the Serbian pyramid whereas Trepça, whose Adem Jashari stadium is the venue next week, play in the Kosovo Superleague.

Over 17,000 tickets have been sold for the game which kicks off at 15:00 local time (14:00 UK). The full Kosovo squad is expected to be named tomorrow.

Kosovo squad - 

Goalkeepers: Samir Ujkani (Palermo [Italy]), Kushtrim Mushica (FC Prishtina) and Julian Bibelaj (Eintracht Frankfurt II [Germany]).

Defenders: Avni Pepa (Sandes Ulf [Norway]), Loret Sadiku (Helsingborg [Sweden]), Lum Rexhepi (Honka [Finland]), Shkodran Metaj (Emmen [Netherlands]) and Shpëtim Hasani (Örebro [Sweden]).

Midfielders: Anel Raskaj ((Sandes Ulf [Norway]), Ardian Gashi (Helsingborg [Sweden]), Enis Alushi (Kaisrerslautern [Germany]), Enis Bunjaku (Eintracht Frankfurt II [Germany]), Fanol Prededaj (Energie Cottbus [Germany]), Faton Toski (FSV Frankfurt [Germany]), Flamur Kastrati (Strømsgodset [Norway]), Kristian Nushi (St. Gallen [Switzerland]) and Liridon Krasniqi (Fethiyespor [Turkey]).

Forwards: Alban Bunjaku (Sevilla Atlético [Spain]), Albert Bunjaku (Kaiserslautern [Germany]), Bersant Celina (Manchester City academy [England]) and Ilir Azemi (Greuther Fürth [Germany]).


  1. ICRA removes leisurely Albanians national team!?

    Switzerland is planning a new immigration law. According to Swiss media representative of Swiss football has led the state thought that new immigration law.
    Representative in Switzerland are only three players that are indigenous, while others are from different backgrounds. Albanians are the most in number that përfaqësojën komëbtaren Switzerland.
    In the new draft is not yet decided how it will be dealt with foreign players, the representative of Switzerland said that there may be only four foreign players, which meant that some of the Kosovar players who play for Switzerland can no longer be part representative of Helvetica.

  2. Lum Rexhepi is also a Finnish international, interesting to see how this affects his Finland future. He's been a regular in all the age groups and even has one b-match for the senior side. Rexhepi had a long lasting injury and as far as I know hasn't played any minutes for about a year and only last week featured for the first time on the bench. In this sense a very strange choice to call him up, especially considering that Kosovo have only five defenders. Maybe Rexhepi is able to come off the bench for a while, but seems like risky business from Kosovo to only pick four fit defenders (?) and one who's fitness is very questionable.

  3. Metaj plays for FC Emmen, which is a Dutch football team, not Belgium

  4. Each player is still able to play for a full FIFA recgonised country even if they turn out for Kosovo. Rexhepi is an interesting case.

    Thanks for the error notification regarding FC Emmen!