Macedonia scored a goal in each half to down Latvia in Boshko Gjurovski’s managerial debut in charge of the national team.
photo by FFM: Kostovski scores the opener
The friendly against Latvia marked a new beginning in Macedonian football. With the official retirement of Goran Pandev and the likely retirement of Nikolche Noveski, Macedonia will lose two stalwarts who also served as captain and vice-captain, respectively.
Manager Boshko Gjurovski handed the captain’s armband to goalkeeper Tome Pachovski for today’s friendly. He deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation that saw Tome in goal, Daniel Georgievski, Vanche Shikov, Daniel Mojsov and Goran Popov comprised the defense, Muhamed Demiri and Ostoja Stjepanovikj were the two defensive midfielders, while the four attacking minded players were Ivan Trichkovski, Agim Ibraimi, Ferhan Hasani and Jovan Kostovski.
Macedonia had more possession of the ball, but neither side created many quality chances in the opening half. Most shots on goal by both teams in the opening half came on long distance shots that were either saved or wound up wide of the goal. Agim Ibraimi attempted several shots as did Goran Popov and Ivan Trichkovski in the opening 45 minutes.
The home side did take the lead in the 29th minute with a tap-in goal from close range. Ivan Trichkovski made several good dribbles from the right hand side before sending in a low cross that was sent to the back of the net by Jovan Kostovski. Both Ferhan Hasani and Kostovski slid from close range to connect with Ivan’s cross, but the goal was credited to Kostovski who seemed to make the final touch before the ball crossed the line. At first glance, Hasani seemed to be taking credit for the goal, but eventually Kostovski was ruled as the goalscorer.
The 2nd half began similarly to the opening half, Macedonia having more of the possession but both teams lacking ideas when it came to creating quality chances. Latvia, however, did score a goal out of nowhere in the 65th minute. Following a counter attack, a Latvia player lobbed a pass trying to reach his teammate, but Daniel Georgievski mishit the ball on his clearance attempt and sent the ball over Pachovski for an own goal. The goal came as a shock to the Macedonian players and the next minute Latvia had a huge chance to take the lead following a lack of concentration at the back. However, luckily for Macedonia, Artjoms Rudņevs shot wide from a great position inside the area.
Macedonia did restore its lead in the 72nd minute through a penalty kick by Agim Ibraimi. Georgievski, who had scored the own goal earlier, won a penalty when the referee ruled that he was fouled inside the area. From an objective standpoint, it was a rather questionable spot kick, but Agim calmly sent his effort past the Latvian keeper to give Macedonia a 2:1 lead which also proved to be the final score.
To view the match report, click here.