Preview: Macedonia vs. Iceland

The day has come where we will find out whether Macedonia reaches the play-offs for a spot in the 2022 World Cup. It is simple, beat Iceland later today and 2nd place in the group is ensured.

In other words, destiny is within our control. Iceland helped out big time when they held Romania to a goalless draw several days ago. So, unlike then, when we were rooting for Iceland, we will now be hoping to defeat Iceland so they do not play spoiler for us.


About 17,000 fans are expected to be present for Sunday’s game. Initially, only the North and South stands were going to be open, but FFM also chose to open up the East and West stands given the magnitude of the occasion. Due to COVID-19, however, only 50% capacity is allowed, hence where you get the 17,000 figure in a stadium that holds about 34,000 spectators.

There is absolutely no excuse not to win on Sunday. Iceland is going through a rebuild/transition where many of its key players from their golden generation are no longer around. This is a completely different team from the one that reached the 2018 World Cup.

Iceland is a bad team right now. They are young, inexperienced and error prone. Shame on us if we fail to defeat Iceland later today. This kind of glorious opportunity may not come ever again. Needing to beat Iceland to reach the play-offs for the World Cup is something that all of us would have taken prior to the start of these qualifiers. It would be a shame not to take advantage.

We saw how beatable this Iceland side is in the first meeting two months ago. Macedonia completely controlled that game, built up a 2:0 lead, but then lost concentration and allowed Iceland to get back in it to snatch a 2:2 draw. We all dreaded how costly those two dropped points could become. Thankfully, that was not the case since Macedonia controls its destiny today. Win and you are guaranteed a spot in the play-offs for the 2022 World Cup. If we fuck it up, shame on us.

Captain Stefan Ristovski returns from a yellow cards ban. He is expected to reclaim his starting spot, even though his replacement Stefan Ashkovski filled in admirably at Armenia.

Probable starters:
S. Ristovski-Velkovski-Musliu-Alioski
M. Ristovski

Iceland, meanwhile, held on for dear life this past Thursday to frustrate Romania in a 0:0 draw. Iceland actually created some decent chances which they totally squandered, but Romania had many more quality looks which they were also not able to convert. Make no mistake, though, there were gaps for Romania to exploit, but they always seemed a step slow.

What I am trying to say is that this is a bad Icelandic side. They have a makeshift defense with not a lot of experience playing together. They will give you quality looks, and those looks must be put away. Romania was not able to do it (good for us), but now we will have to do it if we want to win.

In the Romania game, I thought Iceland’s most dangerous player was their #10, Albert Guðmundsson. He is a pacey winger with good dribbling skills. Our players must be on alert with him.

I am confident our guys will not be denied on Sunday. They can sense how close they are to achieving a great feat. The togetherness is at a high level. There must be a serious approach with no playing around. I believe we will see tremendous intensity, fight and desire. Hopefully our finishing cleats are on. At home, for some reason, goals have been tough to come by. 5 against Liechtenstein, but none versus Germany (0:4), Romania (0:0) and Armenia (0:0). That must change today and I believe it will. I think Macedonia wins with one of the following scorelines (2:0, 3:0, 2:1 or 3:1).

Prediction: Macedonia 3:1 Iceland

Past encounters: (G5 W2 D2 L1 GD 6:4)
01.06.1996 1:1 draw (match report) Q
07.06.1997 1:0 win (match report) Q
15.10.2008 0:1 defeat (match report) Q
10.06.2009 2:0 win (match report) Q
05.09.2021 2:2 draw (match report) Q

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