He is a man that in someone’s opinion is modest and quiet, but others find him overbearing, he is extremely praised by ones and highly disputed by others. Yet the facts speak in his favor. He is the most successful head coach of the Macedonian senior national football team; a man that will be noted in the history as the first coach to have succeed to take Macedonia to a major football competition. Our guest in the festive mega interview – Igor Angelovski.
photo by Petr Stojanovski / FFM: Angelovski during the celebration in Tbilisi
Mr. Angelovski, congratulations on qualifying for the European Championship. Are you still under the influence of the euphoria and did you manage to summarize the impressions one month after the Tbilisi match?
Thank you, I am certainly happy and proud of the achievement.
You are still receiving congratulations from across the world, you have media coverage, all of the sudden the public wants you. Do you appreciate this interest or is it an obstacle in the everyday life?
Of course I appreciate it, but the credit for this goes to the players.
How does your wife and children cope with this? Do you have sufficient time for the family?
I can only thank them for the support, and now when I have no obligations, I spend every moment with them.
You are former football player. To what extend the experience as professional football player is helpful for you as a coach?
Any experience is valuable.
Do you have any regrets related to your career as a player? Something that you think could have been different and better?
Which football players have made impressions on you at both Macedonian and global level and did you have somebody as role model (idol) while you played actively?
Goran Pandev and Predrag Mijatović.
From today’s perspective it is obvious that the former FFM management, headed by Ilcho Gjorgjioski had a vision and believed in you when you got appointed for head coach of the A national team. The current management headed by Muamed Sejdini has extended your contract once, and you are ahead of negotiations for contract extension. What are your relations with the former and current FFM presidents and have they ever interfered in any way in your role as head coach?
I am a person who in principle is focused on his work, so I was doing my job and the mentioned gentlemen did theirs. I am responsible for everything that takes place in the national team and they are responsible for their job. I don’t want to interfere and I do not allow anybody to interfere in my job.
It is a dream of every coach to lead his country at a top football competition. Do you expect to complete the negotiations with FFM successfully and to have your contract as coach extended?
My dream has been fulfilled. Macedonia will play at the EURO 2020 in June. Our fans will fly the Macedonian flag and all of us together will sing the Macedonian anthem. I have not been contacted by FFM so far and the negotiations have not started yet. My contract expires on 31.12.2020.
The saying that Macedonia has 2.000.000 coaches is true for us. What are your reactions for the suggestions to call one or other football player regardless whether those suggestions come from journalists, colleagues, relatives, friends and is this sometimes annoying?
I believe in my decisions.
While you were in Rabotnichki you preferred the format 4-2-3-1, while in the national team you opted for the format with three center-backs (3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2). Did you have some specific reason or inspiration for this change that is for the use of this format?
Nothing special, I choose the format which I believe will bring victory.
You stand for giving a chance to young football players to prove themselves. Did you follow the matches of the Macedonian U21 national team in the last qualifications cycle and which football players from this generation are close to joining the senior national team?
I would prefer not to mention any names.
You always emphasize friendship as a basis for the accomplished results, both in Rabotnichki and in the national team, including your approach to the football players as a friend and not their superior. Has it ever happened to have a conflict with some of the summoned football players either at club or national team level that would affect the team as a whole?
And can Igor Angelovski forgive a mistake in the interest of the team?
Of course if the mistake was not made with the intention of damaging the team.
Globally there is a trend of granting citizenship to foreigners to play in the national team, something that happened in our country in the past (Braga, Gilson, Savić). What is your opinion about having naturalized players to play for Macedonia and have you ever considered the possibility of summoning some of the players that, according to the FIFA rules, this summer have acquired the right to play for us as naturalized players: Sebastián Herrera Cardona, Yevgen Novak, Stênio Júnior?
Each football player that has a right to play will receive due attention if he deserves it with his player’s and human qualities.
Macedonian Football is the only Macedonian football website in English language and as such it is envisioned to be a bridge between Macedonia and its football diaspora. We are especially proud that with our help in the past 14 years over 100 diaspora football players have been scouted and played for Macedonia starting from U15 to the A national team. One of the last players from the diaspora for whom we wrote and whom you contacted personally is Daniel Musovski. What is the state of play with the procedure for issuing him Macedonian documents and is it possible for Musovski to withdraw his promise given the statement of his manager questioning his performance for Macedonia?
I have done my job, I contacted the footballer and offered him to play for Macedonia. I got positive answer. I have not talked to his manager, neither I intend to do so. I have not read about his view.
When speaking of diaspora football players are there any players that rejected your call in the past and has your radar caught players that you would like to see wearing the Macedonian jersey in future?
In this context, following the changes in the FIFA Statute, what are the chances for Uroš Matić to make his debut for Macedonia, a football player who was mentioned to play for us in the times of Boshko Gjurovski and Ljubinko Drulović, but also during your time, yet this did not happen as FIFA did not give permission?
Dejan Kuluševski is the last diaspora player who declined to play for Macedonia.
As I have said before, everyone who I think can improve the quality of the national team will get due attention.
Do you think that the second place in the last cycle in the Nations League is a failure as it was crucial for not moving one step ahead?
I wouldn’t say it is a failure as the key factor was that all focus was placed on achieving the main goal to qualify for the European Championship for the first time in our history
You have the rule that it is difficult to make it to the national team, but it is even more difficult to exit. You stick to a list of 23-25 players who bear the success and that is understandable, but we have witnessed twice situations where injuries took place, there were suspensions due to yellow and red cards, absences due to the coronavirus and you had to make last minute pursuits to find substitute players to build a team to play. Have you considered extending the list to about 30 players, even with pre-calls to prevent such extraordinary situations, especially since in some terms there are three games to be played in one week?
That rule brought those historic results and if I remain as head coach of the national team, I do not intend to change it.
With few changes of squad selections over the past several years it can be seen that the national team is getting older especially in attack. Most of our forwards (attackers) are nearing retirement: Pandev is 37, Trichkovski 33, Velkoski 32, Nestorovski 30. On the other hand the younger players like Stojanovski and Churlinov do not play enough minutes in their clubs. What is your long-term consideration on the outlook of our attack in the years to come?
I never divide the team along lines and for me the most important is to function as a team.
According to all statistical data the goalkeeper of Norwegian Sarpsborg 08, David Mitov Nilsson is the most standard Macedonian international goalkeeper in the last season but he disappeared from your list without any explanation. Can you resolve the mystery about not calling him especially since you have called him previously even when he was not standard player in his club?
In the same direction, is the door to our national team closed for Leonard Zhuta who plays for Italian Lecce in Serie B as left back, a position for which we have a deficit of players? The only classic option is Ezgjan Alioski who as needed covers the left side both in defense and in attack.
As I have said previously, everyone who I think can improve the quality of the national team will get due attention.
In all your interviews you point out that your first task as a coach was to return Goran Pandev in the national team and that his presence is valuable importance in every aspect. Your success in bringing him in the end brought us the EURO. Do you use the vast experience of the captain for consultations ahead of matches? Do you happen to have different opinions on certain issues and how do you overcome such situations?
We certainly discuss and his experience and football knowledge are valuable for all, me included and I respect him to full extend.
Who is responsible for creating the atmosphere in the national team and has it happened so far some “naughtiness” to upset you or to get you in a better mood?
All guys are great and it is pleasure to work with such football players.
Do you have a ritual before a match that you never break?
Do you have a hobby that fulfills you and how do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time with my family.
Do you read books and if so, what is your favorite choice?
My favorite novel is La vie est un roman (Life is a novel) by Guillaume Musso.
At the EURO Macedonia is in a group with Austria, Ukraine and Netherlands, rivals against which, in our opinion, we can compete. Your expectations?
The most important is that we are in a true shape and I don’t doubt it will be so, and when we are in the true shape we can compete against anybody.
The qualification groups for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar have been drawn. Our opponents are Germany, Romania, Iceland, Armenia and Lichtenstein. When you saw Armenia and Lichtenstein in our group did you think “for God’s sake are we going to play against them at all times”?
Jokes aside, do we have chances to see Qatar?
We will go one mach at the time as so far and I hope that we will have enough points for high ranking.
The editorial staff of Macedonian Football wishes you a Happy New Year and Christmas holidays, wishing you good health and to lead us at least in the round of 16 of the EURO next year as well as to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar. It is our time, isn’t it?!
Thank you. I wish you Happy New Year and Christmas Holidays to you and to your readers.