The rise of football in Kosovo as they prepare for their biggest ever game

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A nation that was only granted FIFA membership in 2015 stands on the brink of achieving its first notable feat in the world of international football

Nations League promotion is within touching distance for Kosovo, with those involved in sparking “crazy” scenes among supporters aware that they stand on the brink of “something big”.

The Balkan nation has come a long way in a short space of time and defied many odds to reach this point.

Having only been welcomed into the FIFA family back in 2015, and with many top talents unavailable to them due to international allegiances being pledged elsewhere, faith is placed in stars of tomorrow.

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Only two players over the age of 26 form part of the current Kosovo squad, with seven members of that party aged 21 or under.

An exciting side full of potential has made light of an apparent lack of experience to move to the top of League 4 Group D in the inaugural UEFA Nations League , with no defeats suffered in five fixtures.

Just one point is now required from a meeting with Azerbaijan to step up the international ladder, with those charged with delivering positive results embracing new-found excitement and expectation.

Brondby midfielder Besar Halimi told Goal : “Something big can happen in Kosovo.

“We are very euphoric, and the people here are all going crazy. The game against Azerbaijan will be the biggest game in our history.

“Of course a draw is enough, but everyone here expects us to win and I'm sure we'll beat Azerbaijan if we can put our potential on the pitch - and then we'll celebrate.”

Donis Avdijaj, Willem II, Eredivisie 08262018

That confidence is shared by Halimi’s fellow German-born team-mate Donis Avdijaj, with the Willem II frontman is delighted at the progress being made by Kosovo as they continue to clear the many obstacles placed in their path.

He said: “For many people in Kosovo, football means everything. To see us win makes the people incredibly proud.

“The tickets for our game against Azerbaijan in the Nations League were sold out after 32 minutes. The demand was so high that as players we did not even get some tickets for our families.

“We have a lot of big talents and I believe that our team has the potential to make a splash in the coming years.

“We have to take small steps, even if it is going very well in the Nations League. We are still behind in many things. There is still a long way to go to the top nations.

“Most pitches are so bad, sometimes we have to drive two hours to train at the best training ground in the country but when I was there for the first time, I was shocked because this place was also miserable!”

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