The man has seen others. So, he laughs, while a journalist’s question is translated to him, who asks what will be the composition of Kosovo against Switzerland, this Tuesday (6 p.m. in Zurich). “I’m kidding, because this gentleman asked me the exact same question yesterday in Pristina, and so I’m going to give him the same answer: I don’t give my teams in advance.” This man is Alain Giresse, Kosovo coach since last month.
The former legendary French midfielder, key man of the “Magic Square”, in reference to the quartet which played the game of the Blues of the 1980s, with Luis Fernandez, Jean Tigana and of course Michel Platini, will have knocked about. His coaching career was exotic: “Gigi” led Toulouse and PSG, before going to Morocco (FAR Rabat), then taking care of the selections of Georgia, Gabon, Mali (twice ), Senegal and Tunisia. In March, he therefore succeeded Bernard Challandes at the head of Kosovo.
He spoke with Challandes
“I came to Kosovo because relations existed, he explains. When I was with Senegal, we played a friendly match in Geneva. I agreed to come, because there is work to continue with a young selection, to make it progress, to develop it. Until you have ambitions in the competitions that arise, in order to be recognized as a good European team. We know that the work will be long, but I want to bring my contribution.
Without revolutionizing everything: “I spoke with Bernard Challandes, he gave me information about the work he had done. It happened very naturally, and I saw no reason to change everything. Right, a priori. For its first, last Thursday, Kosovo indeed beat Burkina Faso 5-0.
“We are working on being able to bring in players who are of Kosovo origin”
Alain Giresse, Kosovo coach
Against Switzerland, on the other hand, Alain Giresse expects another challenge: “We know its value, it is one of the fifteen best nations in the world, he estimated. We will have to take all the necessary measures to answer him with dignity. I am aware of what this match represents. I will try to avoid making it too emotional and take it as a football game. Although I am aware of what he can represent for the players and the country. At his disposal, there are thus several well-known players of Swiss football.
Hadergjonaj played for Switzerland A
Among them, Fidan Aliti and Mirlind Kryeziu, who play at FC Zurich. Or Betim Fazliji, the St. Gallen midfielder, as well as Toni Domgjoni, ex-Swiss international M21. Not to mention Florent Hadergjonaj, who had even worn the Swiss A team jersey once. It was in 2017, in a 1-0 friendly win over Belarus. “It’s a special situation for me, recognized the former side of Young Boys, who is now playing in Turkey, at Kasimpasa. I am very proud to have been able to play for the Swiss team. But playing for Kosovo is truly a choice of the heart, and I’ve never regretted it.”
The question of binationality is also an important theme for Alain Giresse. The future of the Kosovar national team is at stake: “We are working to bring in players who are of Kosovar origin, he agrees. It’s a phenomenon similar to what I experienced in the African selections. But there is a problem: we usually deal with players who were born in a country, where they were educated there, play there in clubs, are even called up by national youth teams. It’s not an obvious choice for them. I can’t put myself in their shoes for their reasoning.”