Young players who have Albanian ancestry are being sought after by the Football Federation of Kosovo (FFK) for potential future national team representation.

With the hope of discovering “Albanian talents who one day can represent the national team,” the Kosovar FA’s coaching staff will hold a training camp in the United States at the end of November.

The training camp will be for players born between 2005 and 2009. The present national team coaches, Adil Maliqi of the U19s, Arbnor Morina of the U17s, and Ilir Nallbani of the U15s, will be taking part in the player-selecting process.

Participants whose birthdays fall in 2005, 2006, or 2007 will be the first to officially begin training on November 28. Anyone born in 2008 or 2009 may participate in the experiment until November 29.

“The Kosovo Football Federation will organize a camp with young age groups in the United States of America at the end of this month.

“The contingent of national age group coaches will travel to the USA, whose purpose is to identify and discover Albanian talents in the States, who one day can represent the Kosovo national team in the respective age groups,” the Kosovo federation said in a statement.

Albania poaches Kosovo’s talents for years

The present Kosovo national team includes players of Swiss, German, Belgian, Finnish, and Swedish heritage. This follows rumors that have been circulating recently that Albania has been aggressively stealing their potential future soccer stars.

The Dardanians’ membership in UEFA and FIFA has not stopped the more successful Albanian national side from luring away players. Numerous Kosovo-born players, including Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland, chose to play for Albania or other countries before Kosovo’s admittance to UEFA and FIFA.

Authorities, coaches, and fans in Kosovo’s soccer community are said to be frustrated that the tendency has not yet ceased, as per BalkanInsight. After Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008—nearly a decade after its violent breakaway in 1998–1999—the path to UEFA and FIFA recognition was arduous and lengthy.

Recent examples hurt more

One such player who recently shone was Mirlind Daku of Albania, whose national side thrashed Poland in the Euro 2024 qualification tournament in Germany. It was a mixed bag for the numerous ethnic Albanians living in neighboring Kosovo, however.

Daku had been rightfully theirs up until only days before the game against Poland. The 25-year-old and his teammate, Arbnor Muja both hail from Kosovo and established themselves in the national league of the youngest European nation.

It was Albania, not Kosovo, that they chose to serve on international duty. Falling to last place in Group I, behind only Andorra, Kosovo’s prospects of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Germany diminished after draws with Switzerland and Romania.

But in Group E, Albania came out on top. Two players from Kosovo were named to the starting lineup for Albania’s match against Poland, while two more, including Daku, were substituted.

With only one point from ten games, Kosovo finished last in their group in 2018, as their hopes of making it to the 2018 World Cup for the first time were quickly dashed. The nation, however, narrowly missed out on a spot in Euro 2020 after losing in the play-offs against Macedonia, a neighboring country.

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