Kosovo coach jokes about breaking Sterling’s leg

Date published: Saturday 16th November 2019 5:17

Kosovo coach Bernard Challandes believes England are the best team in Europe and joked the only way to stop Raheem Sterling would be to break his leg.

The Three Lions are in Pristina for the first time on Sunday for the final game of their Euro 2020 qualification campaign, with progression into the finals as group winners already confirmed.

Kosovo can no longer qualify directly after suffering a narrow defeat in the Czech Republic but will be in the play-offs and Challandes will want to build on their performance in a 5-3 loss to England at St Mary’s earlier in the year.

While England shipped three goals in that game, they showed their quality in attack, as they have done throughout the group.

Southgate’s side have racked up 33 goals – three more than the next most potent side Belgium, who have played one more game – and Challandes pointed to that statistic as proof of England’s current standing.

“If you can remember when we began this European qualifiers I have always spoken about new experiences and progress, about improving,” he said.

“This game is a wonderful game with these objectives. At least I can say it is for us a wonderful challenge to play against one of the best teams in the world and perhaps now the best team in Europe.

“If you see this qualification round from England no one has scored so much, the incredible offensive potential of this team: winning 7-0, 6-0, 5-0, 5-0, 5-0. Incredible!

“No other team (is like that), that means for us it is an incredible challenge and as a coach I can enjoy such a challenge but am also a little afraid.

“We can laugh a little but it is the 1,001st game for England, it is our 29th – they are a little more experienced.”

Sterling is expected to start for the visitors having been sidelined for the 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro on Thursday as punishment for his training ground spat with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez.

Challandes believes it is bad news for his side that Sterling will be back and looking to make a point on his return to the team.

“For us it is not good news for sure,” he said

“It is double bad news because if Sterling plays he is one of the best in his position in the world and we saw in the first game the trouble with Sterling.

“Secondly, if I am Sterling I think in this game I must show good behaviour.

“I think if Kosovo play against England and we know exactly the offensive potential, we have no individual answer – it is only collective work.

“It is clear if we remember the first game in England, if Sterling has so much space it is impossible to stop him because what he did in that game, it was 460 metres with high intensity.

“The most intense player for the Czech Republic was 200 metres, even that is a good score.

“Only as a team can we do and can we find a solution. Or we break the leg! But that is not our style, we are too nice – we are a team who are very, very, very nice but it is not a problem if we play together.”

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