18 September 2022 – The Kosovo futsal national team suffered a defeat in the first match for the 2024 World Cup qualifications. The Dardanians were defeated by the Netherlands with 2:1 on Sunday evening in Roterdam. The match was attended by a large number of fans, many of whom were our compatriots. Arben Simitçi’s team had a very good performance, creating numerous chances but were not lucky enough to find the goal. In fact, in the first half, Drilon Maxharraj had two good opportunities, while Dardan Topilla’s goal was denied by the crossbar. The match was even in the second half, as the goals came in the last five minutes of the match. The numbers were unlocked in the 35th minute when Issam Dahmani scored with a deflected shot from a distance. After this goal, the Dardanians were committed to restore the balance in the result but suffered the second goal a minute later when Mohamed Ben Khalou came out alone in front of the goalkeeper Bajram Ramadani. In the last minutes, our players did their best to change the fate of this match but only managed to narrow the difference with Jeton Rukovci’s goal in the last minute of the match. The head coach Arben Simitçiu evaluated the team’s performance in this duel as very positive as he pointed out that Kosovo should have had a lead of two or three goals in the first half.

“I also told the players after the match that I am proud of your performance because we were really better than the Netherlands during the 36 minutes. In the first half we should have been in the lead by maybe two or three goals and then the flow of the game would have been different. However, I can say that we have progressed a lot, the players are at a much higher level. Even the Dutch coach who has been Barcelona’s futsal coach for more than 10 years, congratulated me on the performance and admitted that we were better. Despite the loss, this performance is an incentive to work even harder. However, the game is won by scoring goals and in this aspect we still need to improve. So, the chances that are given to us must be made concrete. The first goal was a deflection, no one made a mistake there. If we didn’t suffer there, of course the Dutch would open up even more in the game and we would probably have even more chances”, said Simitçiu.

Kosovo is part of Group 11 in the “Main Round” together with the Netherlands and Ukraine where the first ranked team qualifies in the “Elite Round”, while the second team plays in the play-off.