England v Kosovo will kick off at 7:45pm today, 10th September 2019 at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton. Fans can tune in to watch the game for free on ITV.
When Kosovo defender Mergim Vojvoda stuck out a hopeful boot to poke home his team’s deciding goal in their 2-1 win against the Czech Republic on Saturday, 13,000 supporters in Pristina rose to their feet in joy, but not surprise.
Three months ago, Kosovo had never won a tournament qualifier. Now, off the back of a 15-game unbeaten run and back-to-back victories they stand in pole position to claim one of Group A’s Euro 2020 qualifying spots and seal a place at next summer’s finals.
The team were only accepted as Uefa members in 2016. This is just their second attempt to reach a major tournament, but already they have put their dire World Cup campaign from two years ago – where they lost nine of their 10 games – behind them.
This is no fairytale. Kosovo, an ex-Yugoslav republic in the southern Balkans, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, though the Serbian capital Belgrade still claims sovereignty. Before that, a brutal civil war between 1998-99 brought the country to its knees, with more than 13,000 people killed and thousands more displaced as an ethnic Albanian resistance fought against the oppressive Serb-led regime.
But Kosovo have shown they are here to stay. Whatever happens against England, they have already written the brightest chapter in their story.