Macedonia plays their first game tomorrow following the sacking of Mirsad Jonuz. Caretaker manager Boban Babunski will be in charge of the national team during the friendly against Azerbaijan which will be played in the capital city of Baku. Can Macedonia return to their winning ways? Will the young players impress? These are some of the intriguing questions facing Macedonia in a game where many youngsters will be given a chance to impress.
Macedonia will travel to Baku with only 17 players after Igor Mitreski, Aleksandar Lazevski, and Agim Ibraimi all withdrew due to injuries. The Macedonian manager mentioned that visa liberalisation problems and the short time notice did not allow him to call up additional players. In regards to the players called up, youngsters Stefan Ristovski, Aleksandar Trajkovski, Samir Fazli, Stefan Spirovski, and Vladimir Dimitrovski are all expected to make their debut for the senior national team. This game also marks the return of goalkeeper Tome Pacovski after a serious double leg fracture sidelined him for several months. He is now fully recovered and will try to regain the starting keeper job of the national team.
Macedonia is expected to line up with a 4-3-3 formation. Boban Babunski will most likely field the following starting 11:
The rest of the players should make appearances during the 2nd half. Keeping a close eye on the game will be new manager John Toshack whose first game in charge will be in early September away to Russia during EURO 2012 qualifications. This is an important game, especially for the young players, to impress Toshack and convince him that they deserve to be a part of the national team in the future as well.
Regarding the opponents, the Azerbaijan squad consists of players mainly from the domestic league with the only exception being Ufuk Budak who plays in Germany for the Freiburg II team. The manager of Azerbaijan is German Berti Vogts who has been in charge of the national team since 2008.
The friendly against Azerbaijan will be played at the Dalğa Arena in Baku, with the game starting at 17:00 CET. The referee of the game will be Alexey Kulbakov from Belarus.