Few surprises in Drulović’s second squad

Ljubinko DrulovićManager Ljubinko Drulović called up 21 players for the upcoming qualifiers against Luxembourg and Spain next month.

As expected, there wasn’t a drastic overhaul to the roster. When Ljubinko Drulović took charge of the national team, he stated that he wanted to develop a core and not change players as frequently as his predecessor Boshko Gjurovski.

The new names on the latest squad are right-back Goran Siljanovski, defensive midfielders Milovan Petrovikj and Nikola Gligorov, and winger Stefan Ashkovski. Meanwhile, the guys that were dropped include goalkeeper Filip Gachevski, right-back Aleksandar Todorovski, center-back Darko Velkovski, defensive midfielders Ostoja Stjepanovikj, Stefan Spirovski and Dushko Trajchevski, and winger Krste Velkoski. There is absolutely no surprise there. The seven players that were not called up this time either failed to impress in the Slovakia game, or are currently backups for their respective clubs.

Brief video from the press conference:

Interestingly, Arijan Ademi finds himself on the list. That is good news since he was rumored to be out three weeks with an injury. His mere presence means that Drulović is confident Arijan will be available, at least for the Spain game on September 8.

The position that Drulović shook up the most is defensive midfield. He will now try out Milovan Petrovikj and Nikola Gligorov to see whether they can strengthen that area.

5 minute interview that Drulović did with Kanal 5:

Look for another two players to be added by August 31, the day when the national team gathers to begin its preparations. One position will definitely be a third keeper, while the other position should be a midfielder or attacker. Director Sasha Ciric mentioned that FIFA may have a hearing over the next week to decide the cases of MF Uroš Matić and GK David Mitov Nilsson. If FIFA clears both guys to represent Macedonia, then look for Matić and Mitov Nilsson to be added to the squad.

Goran Pandev, who was being talked about as a possibility, is still missing from the squad. It remains to be seen whether Pandev, 32, will reconsider his retirement from the Macedonian national team. Drulović was optimistic about Pandev not too long ago, but that time will not be now. Goran wants to first establish himself at Genoa before thinking about playing for Macedonia. He told Drulović and Ciric that he is still not ready physically and mentally to return at this time.

No U21 players were summoned since the youth national team plays two games during the same period. Macedonia U21 meets Ukraine in a qualifier on September 5, and then plays a friendly against Australia two days later.

Complete squad:

Tome Pachovski – Vardar Macedonia
Stole Dimitrievski – Granada Spain

Stefan Ristovski – Rijeka Croatia
Goran Siljanovski – Rabotnichki Macedonia
Vanche Shikov – Austria Austria
Daniel Mojsov – Adana Demirspor Turkey
Vladimir Dimitrovski – Kerkyra Greece
Kire Ristevski – Rabotnichki Macedonia
Leonard Zhuta – Häcken Sweden
Ezgjan Alioski – Schaffhausen Switzerland

Arijan Ademi – Dinamo Croatia
Milovan Petrovikj – Rabotnichki Macedonia
Nikola Gligorov – Vardar Macedonia
Aleksandar Trajkovski – Palermo Italy
Agim Ibraimi – Maribor Slovenia
Ferhan Hasani – Shkendija Macedonia
Stefan Ashkovski – Novi Pazar Serbia
Besart Abdurahimi – Lokeren Belgium
Muarem Muarem – Eskişehirspor Turkey

Jovan Kostovski – OH Leuven Belgium
Mirko Ivanovski – Videoton Hungary

Macedonia plays away to Luxembourg on September 5, before then coming back home to face Spain on September 8 (that also happens to be Independence Day). The Macedonian federation will honor former national team mainstay Nikolche Noveski at that game. They will thank him for his contributions and for positively promoting Macedonian football abroad.

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