Yesterday marked another historic achievement for Kosovo in the field of sports! Since becoming a FIFA member in May, last night on 5 September, Kosovo played its first football World Cup qualifying match in Turku, Finland, earning a 1–1 draw against Finland.
There was last-minute suspense in the air since Kosovo’s team composition remained unclear till only a few hours before the match, pending FIFA’s decision on six players to join the Kosovo team.
The Finnish team took the lead on the 18th minute when the Finnish defender Paulus Arajuuri scored a goal. Valon Berisha, who was given the permission to play only a few hours before the kick-off, scored a penalty during the second half. The midfielder Berisha was born in Sweden to Kosovar parents, grew up in Norway and has previously played competitive matches for Norway.
The Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Timo Soini and Ambassador of Finland in Kosovo Anne Huhtamäki were among the spectators of the match at Turku Veritas stadium, which was filled with cheering fans.
Despite the rain, nothing could stop the fans of Kosovo team to celebrate on the streets of Pristina! Even with the 1–1 result, fans were extremely happy and confident for the coming matches, bearing in mind that the players had not previously played together.
In order for Kosovo to qualify for the World Cup Russia 2018 competition, they need to score well against other opponents of the group: Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine and Iceland.
Besides positive news in football’s realm, judoka Majlinda Kelmendi made history in Rio de Janeiro by becoming the first athlete from Kosovo to win an Olympic medal. This year’s Olympics were the first ever at which athletes could compete under the flag of Kosovo. Kelmendi's gold medal is a wonderful inspiration for Kosovo sportsmen and women to pursue their goals – literally, when it comes to football!