AFP, Turku, Finland: Valon Berisha said he had fulfilled a dream and his place in history after scoring Kosovo’s only goal on their competitive debut
to salvage a draw away in Finland in a World Cup qualifier.
Berisha, a midfielder with Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg, converted a penalty on the hour mark in Turku to cancel out Paulus Arajuuri’s opener for the hosts on 18 minutes on Monday.
Kosovo were only accepted into Fifa in May and the draw was all the more remarkable given that world football’s governing body only gave its approval for a host of players — including Berisha — to represent the Balkan outfit hours before the Group I clash.
“It was my dream to score. It is a historic goal,” said Berisha, who previously played for Norway.
“Kosovo deserved to win the match but I am happy because my family asked me to be the first to score for Kosovo.”
Prime Minister Isa Mustafa hailed the performance and the result, congratulating the players and saying it proved that Kosovo were “worthy of international competition”.
In what is an extremely tough group, Kosovo next entertain Croatia on October 6 before visiting Ukraine three days later.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. About 100 countries recognise it as a state now, but major countries such as Russia do not.