Kosovo draws with Finland in international competitive debut

Valon Berisha, given permission to play only a few hours before kick-off, scored Kosovo’s first goal in a competitive international match to earn them a memorable 1-1 draw against Finland.

Finland, who themselves have never qualified for the World Cup, had taken an 18th-minute lead in the UEFA World Cup qualifier match. Kosovo failed to clear a corner, allowing opposition defender Paulus Arajuuri to hammer the ball into the roof of the net.

But Berisha’s penalty right on the 60th minute mark after a foul by Thomas Lam on Bernard Berisha sparked delirious celebrations among his team mates and officials.

Kosovo slowly grew into the game after their equalizer but failed to find a winning strike.

Red Bull Salzburg’s Berisha has previously played competitive matches for Norway, and was amongst six other players who were allowed to switch nationalities to Kosovo by FIFA.

Kosovo declared of independence from Serbia back in 2008, and became a formal member of FIFA in May this year despite protests from Serbia.

The move has encouraged Kosovan players who have played for other nations, such as Switzerland and Germany, to change teams.

FIFA does not usually allow players to change national teams once they have played for another country in a competitive international match, but has now made an exception for their new member.

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