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Surprises of an unfamiliar country - PHOTO REPORT

Surprises of an unfamiliar country - PHOTO REPORT

Pristina. 19 November. REPORT.AZ/ It looks like you are here to travel with a national team again. As a Sayyid I wish you good luck.

- Thank you. We also take a trip with a Sayyid.

I introduce one of the journalists who travels with me - an employee of "Football +" newspaper Miraga Mirzayev to a middle-aged employee of Heydar Aliyev International Airport wearing a uniform. Another Sayyid is expected to come soon. He is Mirabdulla Abbasov, the footballer of Neftchi, who was invited to the Azerbaijani national team for the first time. However, the "Qarabag" goalkeeper Shahrudin Mahammadaliyev was first to arrive at the airport.

He came first - long before the national team, wearing the form of a national team. At that time, an interpreter of the national team Aydin Rustamov was at the airport. I asked him where  Shahrudin Mahammadaliyev had gone. It was found out that Mahammadaliyev was called to replace Kamran Agayev, who was injured in the match with the Faroe Islands. He was invited when he played with "Sumgait" on the base of "Azersun Arena" in Surakhani. During the break, he was told to get ready, go home, take passport and leave for the airport. As always he obeyed the command as a soldier and arrived at the airport earlier…

After a while the national team has come. Along with them, First Vice President of AFFA Rauf Aliyev, Secretary General Elkhan Mammadov, members of the Executive Committee Isgandar Javadov and Vagif Sadigov are also travelling to Kosovo. We look at the airport monitor and don’t see the word Pristina. There is simply a place for passport registration. That is it. Their passports are there before the players. Team members are not allowed to speak to press, but they are in a positive mood. We all take our place aboard the plane. However, this aircraft doesn’t belong to AZAL or "Buta", but the Bulgarian airline company called VIA. All this is due to the fact that Azerbaijan does not recognize Kosovo as an independent state. So it goes. This is the fate of the national team to play UEFA Nations League match against the national team of the country, which is not recognized by the Azerbaijani state. This is the game which will be played only for victory. The services on this plane are also different. Meals include butterbrots and limitless water and fruit juice. If you want a pillow, they give you a very small one. Indeed, the journey itself is unusual. We still do not know what awaits us ...

After nearly 4 hours of flight, we arrive at the Pristina Adem Jashari International Airport. Plane slips due to the snow during landing but fortunately everything ends well. We come across the Turkish speaking employees until they leave the plane and passport registration. During the registration, they also stamp the Kosovo seal.

Then they take us out of the airport in a hurry, private security is waiting for the team outside.

We stay at the hotel for more than half an hour in snowy weather. It takes half an hour to get to the hotel in a snowy weather. Even though such a weather does not promise anything good for the national team, the weather was different on the next day.

The snow was melting in the morning. Our hotel was 500 meters from the stadium. We walked to the stadium. We saw the contrast to what we have expected, as if there had been no war for this land. The streets and buildings of Pristina look so new and neat, as if the country called Kosovo has everything for development. At the first glance, this place reminds a Turkish city with its buildings, cafes and streets. There is no sign of previous day’s snow.

We are heading to the Fadil Vokrri Stadium at night. This arena looks like a new sports facility with its facade and its stands.  Traces of now can be seen in some places on a grass. There are several people inside. We call the stadium guard andi introduce ourselves to get closer to the stadium.However, we did not expect that such a consent would be given the day before the game.

At least because today both teams will be able to attend an open stadium and press conferences at this stadium. But, contrary to what we expected, he gives a permission. We walk inside with a guide. The stadium official says the stadium named after the deceased president of Kosovo Football Federation underwent repair 5 years ago. Along with all national teams of Kosovo's main and lower age groups, Pristina also hosts home matches. Despite yesterday's snowfall yesterday, the grass cover is in ideal condition. Stadium workers are busy cleaning. One of the stands is closed and the rest are open.

Our guide says that 14,000 stands will be full in Kosovo - Azerbaijan match. The security in the match will be provided by the police, interior troops and stadium guards. From now on, the stadium premises have been given to the disposition of the UEFA representatives.

We leave the arena and enter the nearby shopping center. Most of the clothes sold here were made in Turkey. Since Kosovo does not have national currency, prices are only in Euro.

These are the preliminary impressions of Kosovo and its capital Pristina. Today there are press conferences, and tomorrow is the match. The only important thing is to end the match with a good impression - victory.

Elshan MAMMADOV / Pristina

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