Finland, newcomers Kosovo draw 1-1

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September 06, 2016
AP Milot Rashica of Kosovo (left) and Aleksander Ring of Finland battle for the ball during the 2018 World Cup Group I qualifying match in Turku, Finland yesterday.

TURKU, Finland (AP):

Kosovo kicked off their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-1 draw against Finland yesterday in a big night for the tiny Balkan nation.

It was a maiden competitive match for Kosovo as a new FIFA member, after they were accepted together with Gibraltar in May and fast-tracked into the 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Midfielder Valon Berisha converted a penalty kick in the 60th minute to salvage the point only hours after FIFA confirmed that he and five other players were allowed to represent Kosovo.

The case of Berisha, who played for Norway before Kosovo gained FIFA and UEFA membership in May, was the last one resolved. The five others previously represented Albania.

FIFA had in recent months approved requests from nine Kosovo players who had represented six different European countries, including Albania, Germany, and Switzerland. Finland, who are seeking their first World Cup appearance, had taken the lead in the 18th minute through Paulus Arajuuri.

Other results: Croatia 1 Turkey 1; Ukraine 1 Iceland 1.

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