Macedonia vs. Wales

Preview: Macedonia vs. Wales

Macedonia vs. WalesIn the first matchup between the two national teams, Macedonia and Wales square off later today with both sides looking for a positive result to move further up in the standings of Group A.

The managers of both Macedonia and Wales have made it a priority for their teams to finish the qualifying cycle strong, with each side targeting 3rd place behind the inevitable top two of Belgium and Croatia.  The match took on some added intrigue since this will be the first game for Gareth Bale after he became the most expensive transfer in football history with his move to Real Madrid.  Bale, however, is unlikely to play 90 minutes as he is still working on his fitness after dealing with an injury.

Macedonian manager Chedomir Janevski has a healthy squad of 23 players at his disposal.  Janevski has been pleased with the focus and hard work during this week’s trainings leading into the Wales game.  Macedonia will deploy its usual 4-2-3-1 formation with the lone question mark in the starting 11 being whether Boban Grncharov or Vanche Shikov will partner Nikolche Noveski at the CB position.

Expected lineup: Pachovski; Georgievski, Grncharov (or Shikov), Noveski, Ristovski; Stjepanovikj, Gligorov; Trichkovski, Pandev, Ibraimi; Jahovikj.

With Macedonia’s independence day coming up on 8 September, the players will be motivated to aim for the win in order to bring joy to the fans heading into the independence day celebrations.

The ticket prices for the game were priced at 100 Denars (converts to 1.63 Euros or 2.14 Dollars) and 200 Denars (converts to 3.26 Euros or 4.28 Dollars) by the Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM).  The 100 Denars seats were for the east and west zones of the stadium, while the 200 Denars seats were for the north and south zones of the stadium.

The Wales manager had to make some changes to his squad.  From the initial squad, Wales had to replace three players in Joe Allen, Neal Eardley and Ashley Richards.  Most of the Wales players are based in England, playing either in the Barclays Premier League or the Championship, the second division in England.  Wales conducted one training in Macedonia on Thursday, but their manager Chris Coleman was not present due to a passport issue.  He eventually arrived in Macedonia later in the day on Thursday.

The match will get underway at 19:00 CET at the Phillip II Arena in Skopje.  Game time was initially set for 20:00 CET, but FFM asked FIFA to move up the match one hour so it does not coincide with the Macedonian basketball team who has a game against Serbia that starts at 21:00 CET at the EuroBaskett tournament in Slovenia.  FIFA assigned Sascha Kever of Switzerland to be the main referee, with his compatriots Charles Helbling and Devis Dettemanti being his two assistants.  Alain Bieri, also of Switzerland, will serve as the 4th referee.

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