One nation, two countries and millions of emotions

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Picture taken during the Kosovo – Haiti game March 2014. Photographer: Agron Berisha for FFK.

One team is preparing for the Euro Cup while the other one has yet to even become a members of UEFA & FIFA. On Friday the 13th these two teams are going to clash and it is not just any other game. Albania will take on Kosovo at Prishtina Stadium in Kosovo’s capital, a game that has divided the Albanian people.

The word brotherly has been used instead of a friendly as Kosovo is Albania’s little brother according to some. Albania’s Herolind Shala being one of them. These are the people you will see holding one Albanian flag in one hand and Kosovo’s flag in the other. Win or loss, it is a game where both sides are winners in this giant fest.

“We are one”. Several people, even to this day, have praised Greater Albania and even if Kosovo is an independent state they wish for Kosovo to join Albania and form ‘The United States of Albania’. These are the people mocking the Kosovo flag and the ones that will either boycott the game by not showing up or will show up to show their disaffection towards Kosovo.

Then we have the neutral ones, the ones that are just up for a big event that is going to take place. I mean, how often do you get to attend a game in a stadium where everyone speaks the same language? The city of Prishtina has been filled with flags advertising the game to welcome their fellow ‘opponents’ and the game is now only a day away.

11 of the 25 names on Albania’s rooster are players who have their roots in Kosovo and will play on their well let’s call it home turf. Etrit Berisha, Arlind Ajeti, Lorik Cana, Frederic Veseli, Amir Rrahmani, Amir Abrashi, Migjen Basha, Ermir Lenjani, Shkelzen Gashi, Taulant Xhaka and Herolind Shala. Keeper Etrit Berisha has even played for Kosovo’s NT at one point before becoming Albania’s first choice.

Taking on their former team-mates. While on Kosovo’s side former Albanian NT player Samir Ujkani, who currently plays for Genoa will take on his former team-mates. Mersin’s defender Loret Sadiku & Gefle’s defender Ilir Berisha have both also represented Albania, even though it was a very brief stay.

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Keep an eye on Manchester City’s Bersant Celina! Photographer: Agron Berisha for FFK.

Albania’s team are taking the short bus trip to Kosovo with a much heavier and stable squad who managed to get their first ticket ever to a Euro Cup just last month. Then we have Kosovo, a newly founded organization and team with several young players. For example Manchester City’s Bersant Celina and FSV Frankfurt’s Besar Halimi to name a few. It is a team who can develop for the better and who are still hoping to play more than just friendlies. But now they have some tough Euro Cup participants to face like tomorrow’s antagonists, well only for the 90 minutes.

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