Although slim, the chance still exists for Macedonia U21 to finish in the top two of Group 4 for the 2013 U21 qualifications.
To achieve a spot in the top two, Macedonia faces as close to a must win game that you can have against Northern Ireland tomorrow at the Oval Stadium in Belfast. The two teams ahead of Macedonia, Denmark and Serbia, face off tomorrow so a loss for one of those teams, coupled with a Macedonia win, could lead to an exciting last matchday set to be played next week where Macedonia squares off against Serbia. Currently, Macedonia has 9 points, trailing Serbia by 5 points and Denmark by 3 points.
Macedonia’s opponent, Northern Ireland, has just 4 points, all coming against Faroe Islands (win at home and draw on road). A win in tomorrow’s qualifier would give Macedonia a chance in the last matchday which is all you can ask for at this page. It is always beneficial for a team to control its destiny heading towards the end and not rely on results from other games.
Macedonia U21 seemed to have lost their chances after a draw away to Faroe Islands this past June but after Denmark also played just a draw with the same opponent, Macedonia’s hopes of a top two finish are still alive, although the probabilities are still slim. Looking at the opponents of Serbia, Denmark and Macedonia, the best scenario for Macedonia would be to win against Northern Ireland and have Serbia lose to Denmark. In that case, Macedonia would control its destiny heading into the Serbia match on 10 September knowing that a win, and only a win, in that game would lead to a top two finish.
For many players born in 1990 or 1991, these next two matches will be their final match for the Macedonian U21 national team, unless they can somehow qualify for the 2013 U21 championships. That is the case as for the next qualifying cycle, players will need to be born in 1992 or later to be eligible for the U21 team.
Both Macedonia and Northern Ireland are priced equally by the bookmakers. Both teams have nothing to lose, but a Macedonia win would keep alive its slim chances. In the previous matchup between these two teams, Macedonia won 1:0 and even missed a penalty. If the players play bravely, if manager Boban Babunski fields can field the right formation, Macedonia could down Northern Ireland and give itself a chance in the final round of the group next week. The answer will be known tomorrow, beginning at 20.30 CET, with the main referee being Mihály Fábián from Hungary.