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England are the best side in the world - Kosovo boss Challandes

By Opta
Kosovo boss Bernard Challandes

Southampton, September 10: Kosovo boss Bernard Challandes has dared his players to dream of producing an upset against England, who he labelled as the best team in the world.

World Cup 2018 semi-finalists England have won all three Euro 2020 qualifiers ahead of Tuesday's visit of Kosovo at St Mary's Stadium, scoring 14 goals and conceding one.

Kosovo also enter the match in good form thanks to an unbeaten 15-match run, but Challandes is fully aware of the size of the task facing his side in Southampton.

"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 at Monday's pre-match news conference.

"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."

Kosovo were only accepted as a UEFA and FIFA member in 2016 and they have gone nearly two years since last tasting defeat.

Challandes' side have drawn two and won two of their Group F qualifiers and occupy second place, sitting one point adrift of England who have a game in hand to play.

"We are a young federation - never have we played against such an opponent," Challandes said on the eve of the top-of-the-table clash.

"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.

"Never did we think after four games that we play for the first place here in England.

"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."

England maintained their impressive goalscoring form in Saturday's 4-0 win over Bulgaria, captain Harry Kane netting a hat-trick and setting up Raheem Sterling for the other.

But Challandes insisted his side will not sit back and defend against the Group A pacesetters.

"Harry Kane and Sterling and Rashford and, and, and, and, and..." he said.

"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, 'Okay, 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."

Victory over Kosovo will see England take another huge step towards qualifying for next year's European Championship finals, where a number of games - including the semi-finals and final - will be staged at Wembley.

After lifting the Champions League with Liverpool in June, Three Lions midfielder Jordan Henderson is eyeing his first piece of silverware at international level on home soil.

"It would mean a lot, any trophy that I win, I will be over the moon," he told reporters. "That is all I ever want is to win, whether that's at Liverpool or England.

"It means so much to me to win trophies or win as a team. To win a trophy in the summer was massive and huge for me and my team, for England that is what we want to achieve.

"We want to win trophies and be as successful as we can be. Hopefully one day we can do that."

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Story first published: Tuesday, September 10, 2019, 3:40 [IST]
Other articles published on Sep 10, 2019
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