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North Macedonia--EURO 2020 Team Profile

2021-06-12 21:00:00 1338

Despite having never made a major tournament before and possessing a population less than a quarter of the size of London, North Macedonia are determined to do more than just make up the numbers at Euro 2020.

Head coach Igor Angelovski has stated that the aim of the Red Lynxes is to qualify for the knockout stages of the European Championships.They will face the Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria in Group C.

Coach: Igor Angelovski

Number of European Championship Appearances: 0

Best European Championship Performance: N/A

Number of European Championship Titles: 0

Qualifying Form: Beat Kosovo and Georgia to qualify via the Nations League playoffs

Major Trophies: 0

Most Capped (current) Player: Goran Pandev (119)

Key Player at Euro 2020: Goran Pandev

Lead-up to the Tournament:

Since gaining independence in 1991, North Macedonia had previously struggled to even get close to qualifying for a major tournament, finishing fifth in a six-team group for the 2018 World Cup. Despite an improved performance in qualifying for Euro 2020, their wait to rub shoulders with international football's elite looked set to continue as they finished a distant third in Group G, behind Poland and Austria.

However, the Nations League offered the Balkan nation another route into the Euros and they took full advantage, finishing top of their group before beating Kosovo and Georgia in the playoffs.

North Macedonia have managed to sustain the momentum gained from a now-infamous win in Georgia, winning two of their first three World Cup qualifiers, which included a remarkable 2-1 win over Germany in Duisburg. Their warm-up games for the Euros have seen them draw 1-1 with Slovenia before putting Kazahkstan to the sword 4-0, extending their excellent record in front of goal, which has seen them score in 27 of their last 29 internationals.

The Squad:

Goran Pandev was already a national icon in North Macedonia even before scoring the winning goal against Georgia which punched the nation's ticket for Euro 2020. The 37-year-old captain has indicated he could retire from football after this summer's tournament so will be desperate to go out on a high.

Pandev, who is North Macedonia's all-time leading scorer, has been the face of the team for the last 20 years but a new generation has finally started to emerge, with Elif Elmas of Napoli likely to fly the flag once Pandev steps away. The 21-year-old finished qualifying for the Euros as North Macedonia's topscorer and is part of a strong midfield unit that also contains set piece specialist Enis Bardhi and Leeds United's Ezgjan Alioski.

Bardhi is a doubt for the tournament opener with Austria due to illness, while the loss of Udinese forward Ilija Nestorovski to a knee injury could force Angelovski to move away from his prefered 3-5-2 system.

Fixtures:

13th June - Austria, National Arena, Bucharest

17th June - Ukraine, National Arena, Bucharest

21st June - Netherlands, Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam

North Macedonia's 26-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano), Damjan Sikovski (Doxa), Risto Jankov (Rabotnicki)

Defenders: Stefan Ristovksi (Dinamo), Darko Velkovski (Rijeka), Visar Musliu (Fehervar), Gjanni Alioski (Leeds United), Egzon Bejtulai (Shkendija), Kire Ristevski (Ujpest), Gjoko Zajkov (Charleroi)

Midfielders: Arijan Ademi (Dinamo), Boban Nikolov (Lecce), Enis Bardhi (Levante), Elif Elmas (Napoli), Stefan Spirovski (Larnaca), Tihomir Kostadinov (Ruzomberok), Ferhan Hasani (Partizani), Daniel Avramovski (Kayserispor), Marijan Radeski (Akademija Pandev)

Forwards: Goran Pandev (Genoa), Aleks Trajkovski (Mallorca), Ivan Trickovski (Larnaca), Vlatko Stojanovksi (Chambly), Darko Churlinov (Stuttgart), Milan Ristovski (Spartak Trnava), Krste Velkoski (Sarajevo).

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