According to newspaper “Makedonski Sport,” Pandev has decided to retire from the Macedonian national team following a disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign that saw Macedonia finish in last place.
If the report is to be believed, then Goran Pandev played his last game for Macedonia on 11 October in the 1:0 loss against Wales. He missed the Serbia game four days later after Napoli asked FFM to withdraw Goran from the squad. In the past, “Makedonski Sport” has also reported that Pandev would retire, only for the player to denounce the news later on. They have been known to sensationalize article titles, but they claim in an interview with Pandev that the player told them that he is retiring from the national team.
To summarize some points of the article, which you can read here, Pandev mentioned that he can no longer stay quiet and watch the ship sink even further. He called what is happening on the national team embarrassing, and takes responsibility for that since he is the captain. Pandev identified himself as most to blame for the team finishing in last place of the group, and decided to speak now so the public knows what is happening around the national team.
On the topic of management, Pandev said he couldn’t understand why the players are always viewed the guilty side, and not the coaches or FFM management. He said, “Here, I am accepting responsibility and leaving the national team, but other people within the structures of FFM must also take accountability.” He went on to say that somebody obviously entitles the coaches to give them to authority to not always play the best players, which Pandev said most hurts the 5-6 key players on the team. Later on, he said the public turned on him with boos and insults.
Pandev notes, “We have lived with false illusions and hopes, although the reality and truth was far more fatal. We don’t even have “f” of football, yet before every qualifying cycle we want to qualify for the Euro Championships and the World Cup. But, that was promised by others who use the national team appearances only for propaganda. The media and fans always seem to create tensions, and the home matches feel like we are playing in a foreign field. Right away there are boos and whistles if we don’t lead after 15 minutes, or are losing the match. That is not how it’s supposed to be.”
Goran also blasted the FFM organization when it came to their methods for traveling to away games. Pandev said FFM considered the cheapest alternative, saying it was embarrassing to fly with cheap airlines and that it hurt FFM’s image with the players with their constant focus on always looking to save money. He used the example of the Macedonia players being on the same flight as Belgian fans when they made the trip to Belgium in a cheap airline. Pandev added, “We don’t ask for luxury, but we deserve better treatment. The same was true when we were heading to Macedonia, always the cheapest alternative was considered. Many times, I paid out of my own pockets to get to Skopje. Maybe I can afford it, but not many of my other colleagues who are wandering in the airport with lost luggage and with nothing to train. How does that look? And don’t get me started when it comes to the fields for trainings. Without proper conditions, without showers in the locker room. Then, all of a sudden Janevski leaves and FFM appoints Stratev. What follows is a long flight to Wales, then we will go by bus to the Serbia game and that we will finish third. That’s not how you run a national team.”
Furthermore, Pandev was very critical of FFM sporting director Petar Miloshevski. He felt Miloshevski has not done a good enough job of defending the players and national team from the problems facing them. Pandev said before the Wales game in the city of Cardiff, he was having coffee in the hotel room with Goran Popov but Miloshevski would not come to greet Popov to bury the hatchet. He additionally said that the atmosphere has taken a turn for the worse lately with tension among the players and with the fact that the team was in last place.
When it comes to player selections, Pandev mentioned, “We can experiment with new players in a friendly or two, but not in qualifying matches. Miloshevski and the coaches very easily decided to no longer count on several good players. Before all was Goran Popov. Even if Popov made a mistake and was wrong, he must still play. Here in Italy, they have Balotelli who they accept regardless of his antics because his talent benefits their national team. However, with us, right away certain players are black listed. And not just Popov. We are also missing Mario Gjurovski, Veliche Shumulikoski and Ilcho Naumoski. We are a small country, and there are only so many players you can choose from. That’s why other countries are together and moving upwards, while we sink further and further.”
Pandev said he has had enough of what’s going on and has decided to retire from the national team. He mentioned he sacrificed a lot over the years, affecting his club career and family. Goran stated, “I have to think about the future. When the new qualifying cycle starts, I will be 31 years old. 13 years for the national team were enough. Since many think I’m the problem, I accept that and move on. They constantly attack me that I haven’t scored a goal in a qualifier in five years.”
Goran said he has always given his maximum and played with heart for the national team, but nobody respected that with the results being bad. He said from playing with the national team he only got whistles, criticism and insults. Towards the end of the interview, Pandev said that he will be the happiest, if without his presence. all of the problems are solved.
To summarize, Pandev’s decision to retire is his prerogative. It’s just disappointing that as a captain and leader, he waited until now to speak up about the problems within the national team. If they were so dire, then why not disclose those earlier. Pandev carries a lot of influence based on his name and accomplishments with his club teams, including winning the Champions League trophy with Inter. Several years ago, when he got in an argument with former manager Srečko Katanec, Katanec was fired, not Pandev. If he blasted Miloshevski and the current FFM regime while he was still active, not after he decided to retire, it would earn him more respect and certainly most of the media and fans would be on his side. It would of led to increased pressure on Miloshevski and FFM management to depart if Pandev criticized their work while he was still playing. Instead, this looks shallow and just an excuse as he seems to have planned retirement all along. It appears he is trying to save face by using this as a reason for his retirement from the national team.