FIFA allow duo to switch from Albania to Kosovo ahead of World Cup qualifier
By James Dale
Last Updated: 05/09/16 3:11pm
FIFA have allowed two players who previously represented Albania to play for Kosovo, hours before their first World Cup Qualifier.
Goalkeeper Samir Ujkani and midfielder Alban Meha were both authorised to switch allegiances by FIFA's Player Status Committee while several other similar requests were still pending, according to a FIFA spokesperson.
Despite players not usually being allowed to switch between international teams, FIFA have opened an exception for Kosovo as its federation was accepted as a member of football's governing body only in May.
Both players are now available to play in Kosovo's first ever competitive international fixture when they begin their campaign to qualify for the 2018 Russia World Cup against Finland in Turku on Monday - a game which Finland's Kosovo-born midfielder Perparim Hetemaj has said he will not play in.
Ujkani, 28, who was raised in Belgium and has spent his entire professional career in Italy, won 20 caps for Albania and represented the nation in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and the Euro 2012 qualifiers, but had recently lost his place in the side.
Meha, who grew up in Germany, won the last of his seven caps for Albania in their Euro 2016 qualifier at home to Serbia last October.