Preview: Norway vs. Macedonia

The Macedonians train in Norway; photo: ffm.com.mkOn Tuesday, Macedonia plays its second and final friendly of the Scandinavian tour against Norway, looking to bounce back from the disappointing display against Sweden.

With many changes in the squad, Macedonia will face Norway at the Ulevaal stadium in Oslo on Tuesday at 19.00 CET.  It will be the second friendly for the national team after the encounter with Sweden on 3 June which resulted in a 1:0 loss. Star player Goran Pandev will once again miss the game due to an injury, but he will be joined on the inactive list by a plethora of regulars who have also been ruled out.  Other players who will definitely miss the game and didn’t even make the trip to Norway include Agim Ibraimi, Nikolche Noveski and Aleksandar Lazevski for rest reasons after long seasons for their club teams, Daniel Georgievski, Vanche Shikov and Darko Tasevski for injury reasons and Stefan Ristovski and Aleksandar Trajkovski who had obligations with the Macedonian U21 national team. 

With the absence of that many key players, manager Chedomir Janevski will use the game to test new players.  Keeper Darko Tofiloski and left back Blagoja Ljamchevski could make their debut for Macedonia in this game, defender Daniel Ivanovski is back on the squad after a 7 year absence, while Veliche Shumulikoski, Adis Jahovikj, Dushan Savikj and Ostoja Stjepanovikj are available to the manager after missing the Sweden game.  In particular, the availability of two defensive midfielders in Shumulikoski and Stjepanovikj, in addition to the already present Nikola Gligorov, means that Janevski will not deploy an attacking minded player in the defensive midfielder role.  Janevski stated late last week that the days of playing an attacker in the defensive midfield role are over.

The Norwegians also face problems heading into the friendly, but nothing compared to the Macedonian side. It was already known that Norway would be without Markus Henriksen, Håvard Nordtveit, Valon Berisha and Joshua King for the Macedonia match due to those players being summoned to their U21 national team for the U21 Euro Championship following their qualifier against Albania on 7 June. Then, captain Brede Hangeland also withdrew from the squad due to fatigue after a long season and was replaced by midfielder Magnus Lekven.

“We played well in some games, in some not so much, but that is normal for a team that has young players. Optimism is always present before a game. The most important thing for us is to develop players for the national team, but also to try and get a good result. Norway is a quality opponent so this game will show us about the potential of the current players. We have many changes in the squad so I don’t expect the game to flow smoothly right away, but the responsibility remains the same. We will try not to repeat the mistakes from the first half of the game against Sweden. Every player thus far is working hard, as the trainings have gone as planned, everyone present here is healthy and ready for a chance which makes me optimistic that we will have a good game. You can never predict what will happen in sports, football is a game that can easily turn in favor to one side or another, it’s unpredictable. We will miss few important players, maybe we won’t look compact enough, but we are working to achieve success with what we got. We have to be pleased with the work put in and later we will know which players could help us in the upcoming qualifiers.” national team coach Chedomir Janevski stated on FFM’s web side.

To date, Macedonia and Norway have faced off twice, resulting in one Norway win and a draw.  Both games came during the 2010 World Cup qualifications:

06.06.2009 Macedonia – Norway 0:0 match report
09.09.2009 Norway – Macedonia 2:1 match report

The lone scorer for Macedonia in the second game against Norway back then was central defender Boban Grncharov who also commented on the upcoming friendly to FFM’s web site: “We all had a grueling season, but nevertheless we have the strength and motivation to put in a good performance against Norway. The team changes, the absence of several key players may minimize our chance for success, but we are all motivated to prove otherwise, to function well as a team and to achieve a good result. I hope that no matter who enters the field, the performance will be solid, especially in the back line. Everybody is eager to prove themselves and show that they deserve a place on the team in the future.”

Possible Macedonian starting lineup:

                          Naumovski
Todorovski-Grncharov-Mojsov-Ljamchevski
               Shumulikoski-Gligorov
              M.Ivanovski-Fetai-Hasani
                            Jahovikj

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