Twenty-three men are a football squad. If you add the two professional leagues Super- and Challenge-League together– besides Switzerland – only one nation would bring a complete team on the turf: France with 28 players (16 SL, 12 CL). And then comes Kosovo with 22 players (8 SL, 14 CL). Brazil comes in third place with “only” a total of 15 players.
There is no question that Kosovo is a football ingesis. “Even in the former Yugoslavia, this transgaming.org was very popular,” says FCL midfielder Idriz Voca (22). “And today, at the Nati games, everyone is completely euphoric. I’m looking forward to March.” Kosovo can then qualify for the 2020 European Football Championship via the playoffs.
“A good mix”
The fact that so many Kosovars compete in the highest Swiss leagues can be explored in the history of the Balkans. FCZ midfielder Hekuran Kryeziu (26): “First and foremost because many who fled because of the war live here.” His generation had grown up with modest means, “but one could afford a ball and share it with many others.”
The new generation is very talented, Voca knows. “This goes back to parents and grandparents. The importance of football is great. My father often told how he ran from his village to Pristina to watch football games.
In Switzerland, the two come together, Kryeziu analyses: “Kosovo is a football-crazy country and in Switzerland there is one of the best trainings in Europe – the temperament of the Balkans and the training here fit very well.”
Swiss mentality in Kosovo
In Kosovar football there is also a certain Swiss mentality (and with Bernard Challandes also a Swiss coach). “Switzerland is a model country,” says Hekuran Kryeziu. In addition to their own team, Switzerland is being cheered on.
Kosovo is still a young football nation. Hekuran Kryeziu has made the seventh most appearances for his country with 19 appearances. Idriz Voca has 10 games to play.
“We are on the right track”
The jump to the European Championship finals can already be achieved. Idriz Voca: “We played a good European Championship qualifier, now we meet Northern Macedonia away and Belarus or Georgia with a win. Our goal is clear: we want to go to the European Championships.” At the same time, it is difficult for such a young state to qualify directly through qualification. “The quality is almost not enough for this.” But the playoffs could work out. Kryeziu also speaks of patience, “but we are on a very good path.”
The Kovoso does not yet have big names, but according to Voca, very talented young players are coming to the Nati, “we are very excited about what is to come.” And Hekuran Kryeziu observes a “huge euphoria in recent years.” On March 26, it could be boosted by a playoff semi-final triumph.
- Idriz Voca (FC Lucerne)
- Benjamin Kololli (FC Zurich)
- Hekuran Kryeziu (FC Zurich)
- Edon Zhegrova (FC Basel)
- Mirlind Kryeziu (FC Zurich)
- Arbenit Xhemajli (Neuchatel Xamax)
- Shkelqim Demhasaj (FC Lucerne)
- Cendrim Kameraj (FC Lugano)
- Eris Abedini (FC Wil)
- Gjelbrim Taipi (FC Schaffhausen)
- Gezim Pepsi (FC Winterthur)
- Uran Bislimi (FC Schaffhausen)
- Mergim Brahimi (FC Wil)
- Donat Rrudhani (FC Aarau)
- Jetmir Krasniqi (FC Schaffhausen)
- Imran Bunjaku (FC Schaffhausen)
- Rrezart Hoxha (SC Kriens)
- Kreshnik Hajrizi (FC Chiasso)
- Leutrim Kryeziu (FC Chiasso)
- Fuad Rahimi (FC Vaduz)
- Valon Hamdiu (FC Winterthur)
- Liridon Balaj (FC Aarau)