Македонија / Maqedonisë / Macedonia
- Capital: Skopje / Скопје / Shkup
- Official Languages: Macedonian; Albanian
- Nicknames: Црвени Рисови / Crveni Risovi (Red Lynxes); Црвени Лавови / Crveni Lavovi (Red Lions)
- Association: Фудбалска Федерација на Македонија / Fudbalska Federacija na Makedonija (ФФМ/FFM)
- FIFA Code: MKD
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Best Euros Result (Men): TBD (2020)
- Best Euros Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 46th (October 2008)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 90th (December 2009)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 166th (March 2017)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 129th (September 2019)
- Most Capped Player: Goran Pandev – 119 caps [as of June 2021]
- Top Scorer: Goran Pandev – 37 goals [as of June 2021]
The Republic of North Macedonia, formally known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and more commonly known as Macedonia, is the southern most country to emerge from the Yugoslav region after the brutal breakup of the country in the early 1990s. They joined both UEFA and FIFA in 1994 but sadly the footballing history of the country has not been as successful as their northern Balkan neighbours. Despite having achieved some modicum success in various qualifying groups, and producing a number of talented players throughout the year, it is only until 2020 when they finally qualified for their first ever major tournament. Progressing through the Path D of the UEFA Nations League playoffs, they defeated Georgia 1-0 in the final at Tbilisi to qualify for the 2020 European Championships.
To talk about the debutants in the upcoming 2020/21 European Championships, we interviewed the absolutely excellent Macedonian Football. They run a brilliant website and Twitter account which focuses and reports on all things involving the Macedonian leagues, the national team, Macedonian players playing abroad, and Macedonian football in general. To find their website and social media accounts, follow the links below:
- Macedonian Football Website: http://macedonianfootball.com/
- Macedonian Football Twitter: @MacedonianFooty
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
This is an easy question on both fronts. Our best player of all-time is Goran Pandev, while our best manager of all-time is Igor Angelovski, who is also the current manager right now. Both are no brainers. Pandev is the leader in caps and goals scored. He is also the undisputed captain who scored the decisive goal to send us into EURO 2020, the first time we have ever qualified for a major competition. Angelovski, in the meantime, is now the longest tenured coach in our national team’s history. He has been in charge for just over 5 years and he cemented the best manager of all-time by leading the squad to EURO 2020.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
With regards to cult heroes past and present, Goran Pandev is the biggest cult hero presently, while from retired players, I would say Goce Sedloski, Velice Sumulikoski and Nikolce Noveski were cult heroes at one point while they played for the national team.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player from Macedonia currently?
Our best player remains Goran Pandev. He is 37 years old, but he is still the top performer on the national team. When he is out of the national team for whatever reason, his absence is noticeable. We do have younger players who are valued much more on TransferMarkt for instance, but a big part of that has to do with age/potential. Regardless, if you just focus on the performances, Pandev remains our best player, even at his advanced age.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
The current state of the national team is very good. In mid-November of 2020, our men’s national team finally qualified for a major tournament (EURO 2020) when we defeated Georgia in a play-off final. We capitalized on the UEFA Nations League competition, where we were in League D, to make history. So, the national team is doing well performance wise, and everybody is looking forward to a very busy 2021 [when the rescheduled European Championships will take place].
Q. Are there any Macedonian players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
In our senior national team, we do not have many players under 25 years of age. So, while I like Enis Bardhi as an example, he is 25, so I would not consider him for this question. The simple and correct answer would be Elif Elmas. He is being hailed as the ‘next Pandev’. He is 21 and already a member of the Napoli squad, which speaks highly of his ability.
Q. Looking at Macedonia’s international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
We have had an interesting history. Often at times, in the past, we would play up and down to the level of opponent. We have drawn against some mighty European sides like England, Netherlands (multiple times in both cases), Italy and Portugal. We have never played France and Germany (however, Germany is in our 2022 World Cup qualifying group). So, our national team was often an enigma. Getting draws against big sides, but then suffering an inexplicable loss against a minnow.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
To expand on the last answer, the lowest of lows would be losing one time to Andorra [0-1 in October 2004], and drawing once to Liechtenstein [1-1 in September 2002].
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Macedonia national team?
The best thing about being a fan of the national team is finally achieving a berth to a major tournament. It gives you a sense of pride.
The worst part is all the lows. There have been way more lows than highs. However, as a football fan, you keep going and remain hopeful that better days lie ahead. That was the case in regards to our national team.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
When you are at the stadium, you do hear some songs that are regularly played. An example is this particular song:
This is another song that is heard at the stadium all the time:
And this is another song that plays often in the stadium:
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
I have the current home and away jerseys. However, I would not say they are iconic. I frankly have not liked the jersey design on any of our jerseys. They kind of look stale/outdated. I am hoping a more modern look will be revealed before EURO 2020.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Macedonian national team?
My hopes for the future of the national team is to have a good showing at EURO 2020. With a group that includes Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria, I believe there is an opening. From 24 sides in EURO 2020, 16 of them will advance to the Round of 16. That means four third-place teams will also advance. So, the hopes are to have a good showing there, and then a transition will need to take place since we do have somewhat of an aging roster.
A massive Ви благодарам многу to the guys from the superb Macedonian Football for answering our questions on the Red Lynxes. Remember you can find their excellent accounts and website in the links at the top of the blogpage.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at email@example.com or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.