PRISTINA, Kosovo, Feb. 17
Kosovo declared its independence today from Serbia.
And that my friends should be another welcome addition to the soccer world.
Kosovo follows in the footsteps of Montenegro which broke off from Serbia weeks before the 2006 World Cup although the soccer team played under the unified banner of Serbia- Montenegro.
Kosovo will be FIFA's 209th member. They have a long standing team as yet unrecognized by FIFA and UEFA because Kosovo was occupied initially by Yugoslavia before NATO forces intervened in the Balkan crisis in 1999 and handed its administration to the UN. The most visible way to announce to the world that Kosovo is a independent entity is to get ratification from UEFA and FIFA and become eligible for the Euro and the World Cup.
Thus begins a dilemma for many Albania squad players born in Kosovo who might be eligible for the new Kosovo national team. This includes Lorik Cana, the captain of Olympique Marseille and Besart Berisha who recently transfered to Burnley FC from Hamburger SV, and Samir Ujkani, the U-21 goalie who plays for Palermo.
There are also a number of Kosovar Albanian players scattered throughout Europe in Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Germany who may be tempted to become part of the Kosovo national team. Players such as Valon Behrami of Lazio who has already played for the Switzerland national squad, Liverpool's hottest youth prospect, Astrit Ajdarevic, a Swedish U21 international, and Faton Toski, of Eintracht Frankfurt, a member of Germany's U-19 squad.
For those history buffs the provisional Kosovo national team played its first game against Albania losing, 0-3 on Feb 14, 1993.
Finnish international and human bulldozer, Shefki Kuqi at present on loan to Fulham is Kosovar Albanian in origin. But he may not switch his allegiance from the land of Koskenkorva and Sillanpaa.