The young Macedonians wrote a new page in the history of the Macedonian football after beating Scotland in the final game and with a help from Ukraine managed to win a place at the 2017 European championship in Poland.
Finally a big celebration involving a Macedonian national football team. After the many success of the handball and basketball national teams, Macedonian football fans eventually got their time for joy.
The U21 Macedonian national football team lead by coach Blagoja Milevski did the impossible, did something that none hoped before the start of the qualifiers, they made it to the EURO in Poland!
The anthems before the kick-off:
Macedonia needed a win over Scotland in the very last round, but also needed Ukraine not to lose against Iceland on the road. Kire Markoski broke the deadlock in the 18th minute making the fans at the Arena Philip II jubilant, but only four minutes later came the information that Iceland had taken the lead against Ukraine through defender Daníel Leó Grétarsson. The players were unaware of that, but everyone on the stands were constantly checking their phones in hope for good news from the far away Iceland.
The young Macedonians dominated the game and just after Iceland’s goal they score another through Enis Bardi. At that moment it was clear that the winner was already settled in Skopje.
The Macedonian goals:
Later the Lynx had a great opportunity for a 3:0 lead as in the 38th minute one of the visiting players played with hand in the box. David Babunski took the penalty kick, but his weak shot was an easy save for Ryan Fulton.
The penalty kick:
Just before the half-time break the stadium errupted as Ukraine scored, but later came the information that the goal was annuled for offside.
In the second half we saw a more attacking Scotland. Suddenly, in the 56th minute the stadium erupted again as Andriy Boryachuk equalized for Ukraine, this time for real.
In the last 20 minutes of the game the visitors pressed more and more, hopping for a goal. The 75th minute was under way, the ball was on midfield but the stadium errupted for a third time as the Ukrainians surprisingly scored a leading goal through Artem Besyedin. Before this round Iceland and Macedonia were tied with 18 points, but the problems was that Iceland was better in the head-to-head clashes.
Elías Már Ómarsson eventually tied the score on 2:2 bringing Iceland back in game for winning a place at the EURO. Since that moment the Icelanders put everything in attack as they had to score a winner, but that costed them heavily as Boryachuk scored his second giving Ukraine a 3:2 lead in the 90th minute and at the same time putting a bitter end Iceland’s hopes for a EURO. Deep into the injury time Oleksandr Zubkov set the final score of 4:2 for Ukraine.
Iceland – Ukraine highlights:
Standing ovations for the new Macedonian heroes after the final whistle. Macedonia will finally participate at a football championship for the first time in its short independent history.
The last moments & final whistle:
But we should not forget that without the determination of the Ukrainian players, who unlike Scotland (who went on to face Iceland in the previous round with 14 debutants) got on the field with their first team and played like they were still in game for qualifying. Unlike the Macedonians, the Icelandic players were making their own destiny, with a win they would have been qualified no matter the results in the other matches.
Macedonia won the group ahead of France who had the least chances of ending first and who was favourite to win the group. Iceland finished third.
We are now celebrating David, Igor, Enis, Gjoko, Marjan, Egzon, Viktor, Besir, Boban, Darko, Kire, Tihomir, Visar, Mevlan, Daniel, Petar, Filip, Kristijan, Burhan, Damjan, Hristijan, Demir, Elif, Filip, Dorian, Valmir and Nikola, every player that made an appearance in these 10 qualifying games.
The players invaded the press-center, danced and sung:
The unorthodox press-conference ended with coach Blagoja Milevski giving a long and powerfull speech.