Wanderers FC striker Labinot Haliti hasn’t returned to his homeland of Kosovo since 1998, he was 13 years old and the country was in the grip of a violent war.
Wanderers FC striker Labinot Haliti hasn-t returned to his homeland of Kosovo since 1998, he was 13 years old and the country was in the grip of a violent war.
But regardless of his long absence from Europe, Haliti admits if the opportunity came up and FIFA lets the fledgling nation play international friendlies he would be ready to play.
Kosovo, who gained independence from Serbia in 2008, face a large hurdle in that they are not recognised by the United Nations, despite having the support of 90 UN Member Nations.
The upshot of that is FIFA and UEFA statutes state that only nations recognised by the UN itself can be accepted as members.
As a result Football Federation of Kosovo is not seeking membership, but rather the right to play matches against teams from countries which recognise it.
It-s a small step in a long process, which the FIFA Executive Committee is set to rule on during their next meeting in Tokyo. Haliti hopes they give Kosovo a chance, mostly so the people get something positive to enjoy.
”The people, they deserve something there, they are passionate they love the game, so why not?” Haliti asked.
“I would like to see Kosovo granted the right to play friendlies. The people who are in charge of it are giving everything and putting a lot behind it and I think they deserve a favourable decision.
“I don-t see any reason why they should be denied.”
While his home nation might be a chance of playing international friendlies, Haliti himself just wants to focus on the Wanderers, playing well and getting on with the A-League season, though he does admit he would consider an international call-up if it came - after all he did represent Australia at Under 23 level.
“To be honest I haven-t thought of that (playing for Kosovo) at all,” he said. “What I am concentrating on is being here at the Wanderers, doing the right things and having a good season.
“Hopefully they get it and they move forward and if I-m still playing when it happens (FIFA moves positively on Kosovo) and they pick me, then why not.”