Kosovo head coach Bernard Challandes wants his players to dream of extending their unbeaten run to 16 games by shocking England at St Mary’s tonight – even though he considers the Three Lions to be the best team in the world right now.
England sit top of their Euro 2020 qualification group after three wins from three but it is surprise package Kosovo who are running them close in second place as the two nations prepare for their first-ever meeting.
Only accepted as a member of UEFA and FIFA in 2016, Kosovo have not lost in almost two years – a run of 15 games.
Facing England will no doubt prove their biggest test to date but Challandes wants his side to believe they can leave Southampton with a result.
“We are Kosovo and we are here against one of the best teams in the world, in my opinion – the best team in the world,” he said.
“I think it is in my philosophy that if we don’t dream it is unnecessary to play such games, we should dream and do all that is possible to disturb England.
“I will see tomorrow because with Kosovo we are young, we are a young federation, never have we played against such an opponent.
“For me as a coach it is not easy to have a good mix for the evaluation of this game.
“If I say ‘we come to win’, I think a lot of people think that is pretentious; if I say ‘it is not possible to win against England’, I must change my job.
“It is clear for me it will be a very, very hard game but it is a possibility for our very young team to show what is a very, very high level.”
Challandes, a Swiss coach and a self-confessed Manchester City fan, concedes Kosovo will come up against some top players when they line up against England but does not intend to simply try and defend.
Asked about the form of Harry Kane – who hit a hat-trick in England’s win over Bulgaria on Saturday – Challandes said: “Harry Kane and (Raheem) Sterling and (Marcus) Rashford and, and, and, and, and…!
“For me it is a wonderful team but I have only this way in my head – I don’t want to say to my team, ‘OK, we stay in our own half and defend, defend, defend’ – I hope we can play and be an opponent, not a big opponent but and opponent with intensity.”
While England have racked up nine points from nine with an aggregate score of 14-1, Challandes does not think Gareth Southgate and his side will underestimate Kosovo.
“I don’t think so,” he added.
“Because the mentality of the England team, particularly here, they give their all against Kosovo or Brazil – they bring the same, I have never thought England would take Kosovo as a little team and they can play on only one leg.
“It would be good if some players of England are thinking of next week and the championship and the Champions League and stay a little quiet, it would be good, but I don’t know.”
England v Kosovo, live Virgin Media One, kick-off 7.45
Source: Read Full Article