Kosovo coach fears ‘high quality of Croatia’ in qualifier

Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) Kosovo coach Albert Bunjaki is not hopeful of getting points in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Croatia and Ukraine.

Bunjaki said Sunday his players needed to exploit any counter-attacks against the “high quality of Croatia.”

Thursday’s match against Croatia will be played in Albania’s northern city of Shkodra as Kosovo has no stadium certified by UEFA. Three days later Kosovo travels to Ukraine.

“We are at the beginning of the road as a national team and the pressure is much higher (on Croatia),” Bunjaki said at a news conference in Pristina.

Bunjaki has three injured players and one of them – midfielder Enis Alushi – will miss both matches.

“(Croatia and Ukraine) are very difficult opponents. The key is patience and concentration as we have to cope with opponents of a superior level. But it is not impossible for us to win,” Bunjaki said.

Kosovo became a UEFA member in May, joined FIFA a week later and was fast-tracked into 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Kosovo drew 1-1 at Finland in September in its competitive international debut.


Goalkeepers: Samir Ujkani (Pisa), Adis Nurkovic (Travnik), Bledar Hajdini (Trepca 89).

Defenders: Fanol Perdeaj (TSV 1860 Munchen), Avni Pepa (IBV Vestmannaeyar), Alban Pnishi (Grasshoppers), Amir Rrahmani (Lokomotiva), Leart Paqarada (Sandhausen), Ardian Ismjali (Hajduk Split).

Midfielders: Hekuran Kryeziu (Luzern), Eroll Zejnullahu (Union Berlin), Alban Meha (Konyaspor), Herolind Shala (Kasimpasa), Bersant Celina (Twente), Milot Rashica (Vitesse), Bernard Berisha (Anzhi Makhachkala), Sinan Bytyqi (Go Ahead Eagles), Besar Halimi (Mainz), Valon Berisha (Salzburg).

Forwards: Arber Zeneli (Heerenveen), Albert Bunjaku (St. Gallen), Vedat Muqiri (Genclerbirligi), Labinot Kabashi (Barcelona).