Broja MIA for Albania in key fixture
Chelsea starlet Armando Broja will be MIA for Albania when Shqiponjat clash with European giant England at Wembley tonight, in a big loss for national team boss Edoardo Reja.
The Southampton loanee and Cobham academy product has not fully recovered from what is said to be a minor muscle issue in the wake of his substitute appearance last weekend for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Saints in a 1-0 win at St. Mary’s Stadium against Aston Villa, that saw the Dean Smith era at Villa Park come to an end.
Armando Broja will not face England this evening. The on-loan Southampton striker has not recovered from a minor muscle issue after complaining of discomfort following his substitute appearance against Villa last Friday.#SaintsFC #CFC #ALB
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) November 12, 2021
It is a big blow for Reja’s upstart outfit, who currently sit third in Group I just one point behind Poland for the critical second spot which would book passage into the World Cup Qualifying playoff round.
Albania has never qualified for a World Cup in their footballing history, and the absence of Broja – one of the nation’s brightest young talents alongside AS Roma’s Marash Kumbulla and Empoli’s Nedim Bajrami – is sure to be felt.
Broja has registered three goals for his country in his first ten caps after starring at both U19 and U21 levels for the Eagles. Reja will now have to continue to put faith in aging center-forward pair Sokol Cikalleshi and Bekim Balaj.
Chelsea product a prime example of Albanian footballing identity
Despite being one of the brightest stars in the steadily growing status of Albanian football, Armando Broja is like so many of his national team colleagues; born abroad but proud to represent the nation of his parents.
Broja was born in Slough; just 20-miles from London. But as veteran Salernitana defender and Albanian international Frédéric Veseli recently commented, the diverse origins of many of Albania’s brightest talents is part of the nation’s footballing identity.
“We’re from Kosovo, Switzerland, and so on – but we’re all Albanian.”
Like Broja, Veseli was born abroad; in Switzerland. Others such as Marash Kumbulla, Kastriot Dermaku, Thomas Strakosha, Enea Mihaj, captain Etrit Berisha, Berat Djimsiti, Arlind Ajeti, and Amir Abrashi were born in nations like Italy, Greece, Kosovo, and Switzerland.
And with the country on the cusp of reaching the playoff round of World Cup qualifying for the first time, that same footballing diversity among the best and brightest Albania has to offer will be front and center as Shqiponjat tries to perpetrate the biggest upset in their history.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.
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