Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic says he will not attend a qualifier for the European soccer championships in Albania, saying he does not want heated fan rivalry to undermine progress made in relations between the two Balkan countries.

Thursday's match in Elbasan, central Albania, is being policed by more than 2,000 officers, with extensive road closures and security checks.

Vucic had been invited to the game by Albanian Prime minister Edi Rama, who is due to attend.

A match between the countries — who remain at odds over the status of now-independent Kosovo — was interrupted by violence in Belgrade last year after a drone carrying a nationalist Albanian banner hovered over the pitch.

In Elbasan, thousands of fans gathered in a party atmosphere ahead of the Group I game.