Best results so far in all qualifiers as Macedonia finished on the 3rd place in the Group G for the 2020 EURO. In the last two round we lost by a lone goal away to Austria and later with the same result we defeated Israel at home.
photo by FFM: Nikolov, Ristevski and Kostadinov celebrate against Israel
Macedonia never before managed to get past that 4th place. Recently we even ended up 5th on couple of occasions. Now, the Lynx are 3rd. it is not a place that leads us to a major tournaments, but it is a consolation reward for all the effort put in these qualifiers.
First on Saturday Macedonia visited Austria in Vienna. A squad tormented by injuries and suspensions, we saw 19-year-ol CB Mario Mladenovski making his debut right from the start, same as midfielder Tihomir Kostadinov. Pandev could not play as he got ill a day before the match, while Musliu, Nestorovski and Nikolov were suspended. Alioski, Trichkovski, Bejtulai and Ademi were previously ruled out injured.
Angelovski opted for a 3-5-2 formation with Dimitrievski between the posts, Velkovski, Mladenovski and Ristovski in the back line, Ristevski and Toshevski as wing backs, Spirovski, Bardhi and Kostadinov in the midfield and Pandev and Trajkovski up front. The host Austrian fans made a beautiful atmosphere at the stadium.
After just seven minutes Alaba used a sleepy reaction by the Macedonian defense and broke the dead lock. Few minutes later Trajkovski had to leave the field picking up an injury, so Vlatko Stojanovski eventually got a chance to make his debut. Just three minutes after the break Lainer doubled the lead. Austria needed only a point to secure a spot at the EURO. In the injury time Bardhi took a free kick that found Stojanovski who headed home on his debut.
On Tuesday Macedonia hosted Israel in what was a battle for the 3rd place. This time Angelovski could feature the previously suspended players plus Pandev who beat the illness. He opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation with Dimitrievski as keeper, Ristevski, Velkovski, Musliu and Ristovski in the defense, Bardhi and Nikolov in the midfield, Elmas, Pandev and Kostadinov inbetween the mid and Stojanovski who was up front.
Macedonia was the better team but only managed to score once. Boban Nikolov got a ball rebounded after a corner kick and placed it in the net in the injury time of the first half.
That goal happened to be decisive and enough for Macedonia to clinch the necessary three points.
With Poland beating Slovenia 3:2, Macedonia and Slovenia ended up equal on points by we are 3rd thanks to a better head-to-head record with the Slovenians.
Now Macedonia will wait for March next year and the second chance to reach the EURO. On the 26th we host Kosovo in the semi-final of the Nations League path. If we managed to win we will then play the winner of the tie involving Georgia and Belarus. The final winner will earn a spot at the 2020 EURO.