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Kosovo to persist with Januzaj

ESPN staff
February 27, 2014 « Anelka future in doubt following 'quenelle' suspension | Chartbeat test »
Januzaj to skip Kosovo game


Kosovo football federation officials will continue their pursuit of Adnan Januzaj, despite comments from the Manchester United winger's father that he would not make his international debut for the country next month.

Kosovo is currently not recognised by the United Nations and until then cannot be admitted to FIFA. World football's governing body, however, has granted the nation permission to play against full FIFA members who recognise its independence - although such meetings would not qualify as full international fixtures.

Januzaj was reportedly set to play for the country - where the majority of his family hail from - in its first-ever full international against Haiti on March 5.

Kosovo manager Albert Bunjaki told ESPN FC on Wednesday: "The players must decide by themselves. I want them in the team, but the most important thing is that they - not their parents, their managers or anyone else - make their decision. If they can do that, I know they'll have high motivation to come with us."

But Eroll Salihu, secretary general at the FFK, said he would continue to pursue the 19-year-old.

"We cannot force him, but it would be very symbolic if Adnan would play for 15 or 20 minutes," he said. "He would not be asked to do anything beyond that. Unfortunately he is just 19 and we don't have any official statement from him, but I think [Januzaj's camp] should give positive signals to meet with our officials."

The midfielder is wanted by a host of different countries, with Belgium, Albania, Turkey, Serbia and England all hoping to persuade him to represent them.

Bunjaki said he would also pursue Bayern Munich's Xherdan Shaqiri and Borussia Monchengladbach's Granit Xhaka, who will both play for Switzerland in this summer's World Cup, as well as Swiss teammate Valon Behrami, of Napoli, and Albania captain Lorik Cana, of Lazio.

"The most important thing is that we start building the team with the players available to us now, who are all of good quality, and creating some competition within the group. After that, if we play in the World Cup qualifiers then of course I want the best players for Kosovo - that includes Shaqiri, Xhaka, Behrami, Januzaj, all of them," he said.

Friendly matches do not commit a player to one country, but FIFA's statute, article 17, allows for changes in national representation by athletes only in special circumstances.

Last week, Januzaj's father told Kosovan TV station Kohavision that he would like his son to play for Kosovo, but added that "the matter is delicate, because the Kosovo FA is not yet a member of FIFA."

"Maybe one day Adnan will play for Kosovo, but for now, this will not happen. And we have a lot of time to think about everything."

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