PRISTINA: Kosovo are about to play their first international against European opposition since being cleared for interaction by FIFA.
Turkey provide the opposition his time for Kosovo who launched a new era of semi-acceptability with a 0-0 draw Haiti in the northern town of Mitrovica in earlier this spring.
That was the Kosovars’ first home game since winning the right from the world federation to do so officially despite vain, seething opposition from Serbia supported by Russia and UEFA president Michel Platini.
Turkey provide opposition No2 and then Senegal will be the next visitors.
Kosovo was once a southern province of the former Yugoslavia which, as the demographics changed, grew ever more ‘Albanian’.
When Yugoslavia imploded in the early 1990s into civil war so Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina all staggered free into independence.
Not so Kosovo in whose lands Serbs invest historical significance. It took NATO intervention to halt a bloody war of ethnic cleansing and effect a separation which Serbia continues to deny.
Sport is one of the most visible elements of any state’s pursuit of independent identity. Hence the push by the long-established Kosovar Football Federation to join the party which local fans could witness being enjoyed by their neighbours in World Cups, European championships and European club competitions.