Crossing Europe: Macedonian Cinderella Journey to the Euro “21”

Last year around this time, we wondered about Albania’s direct advance to her first adult tournament, now the same is happening in a little different contours for another traditional dwarf from the Balkans. Macedonia, however, struggled only for the ‘small Euro’ under 21 years, but does so as the real genuine Cinderella…

Of course, Macedonia has something in common with Albania. Already in the 1960s, the first waves of Kosovans started to flow mainly to Skopje, and already at the Betclic bonus beginning of the next decade Albanians accounted for 17% of the Macedonian population according to the official census.Today it is more than a quarter of the country, and almost the entire northwest.

This is where Tetovo hosts FK Škëndija – the Macedonian champion of 2011, the winner of the last year’s National Cup, and the country’s second-best team, operating its official website purely in Albanian. After all, only a third of Tetov is Macedonian.

Macedonia’s relations with Albania are therefore really close, which, on the other hand, is not warm.On the contrary, the folk tale sounds that the only thing that connects Serbs with Macedonians is their hatred of Albanians and their fear of restoring the so-called Great Albania, which also includes the western part of Macedonian territory.

This is also reflected in the football scene: until he was convicted of doping and overwhelmed by a severe four-year sentence, the main minus of Ariane Ademi in his search for a new senior captain was his Albanian origin. Ademi is a native leader but does not speak Macedonian. His name is more related to the Croatian Dinam Zagreb than to Macedonia, and that Bet365 Brasil would just not work well.While Albania could rely on the four-year concept of Italian coach Di Biasi on the road to Euro, or the star of Serie A vice-champions from Naples (Elseid Hysaje), Macedonian’s “21” was the first qualifying cycle under coach Blagoji Milevski. / p>

Indeed, this is no case of exceptional generation. Indeed, such stories are hardly written at junior level in smaller European countries.Iceland and its first experience of a larger international tournament on the small Euro 2011 can be considered a specific exception for a number of factors, otherwise such football landscapes traditionally suffer from the widespread custom of generational talent to recruit immediately for adult selection.

Goran Pandev, who has been a member of the senior cadre since the age of 17, is no exception to this normal practice. As the only stronger twenty-one, whose members subsequently dragged it to a larger number in the A-team, so in the end we can consider the mid-90.Since the squadron of Goce Sedloski and Artim Sakiri in qualifying has accumulated three victories until now.

The fact that this generation’s skeleton has been formed by this generation for years is not a mistake. Most of the players in question do not play regularly in their clubs, let alone shine – which makes the success even more magical. Goalkeeper Igor Aleksovski makes a duo in Vardar Skopje, where until recently did not play even stoper Darko Velkovski (and when has already begun, doing the same as a shield midfielder, which is said to have no physical). Gyoko Zajkov is still waiting for the start in Charleroi, Belgium.Both beci, Egzon Bejtulai and Desir Demiri, are even suspended by Skendija for their stubborn rejection of the new contract and looking for a chance abroad.

Marjan Radeski rarely appears in the vice-champion line-up. Defensive midfielder Enis Bardhi is again moving to a much more offensive position in Ujpešt, Hungary, while hippo number 1 Viktor Angelov just rotates regularly in the same club. David Babunski’s paper-based name on the roster barely strikes at the Crvene Zvezda in Serbian with experience from the Barcelona B-C……and what does that mean? In fact, only two names have crystallized, which are very trustworthy at club and national level.The first is the already mentioned Enis Bardhi (albeit in slightly different roles) and then we can just talk about Kirem Markoski from Rabotnicki – at the look of a noticeable but hardworking and effective left wing, which last year in the 3rd round of the European League from a large part of the stakes for the sensational crash of Trabzonspor and also gave three winning Unibet bonus goals in the qualification “21”.

Markoski is basically a Macedonian Ladislav Krejčí when he suits him, and now imagine eleven, where just such a Krejčí normally pays for a single player in complete gaming ease.Exactly; It is a small miracle that coach Milevski managed to make such a perfectly pedaling team out of this crazy tramp, who lost only the first match with Iceland, tied twice with the favorite France and scored a single goal in six matches of the calendar year 2016.

And although this success may indeed seem to be entirely random, there are still some foundations in a reforming domestic football environment…

Iceland the right inspiration

If I mentioned Iceland above, then be aware that Macedonians in fact, on a small Nordic island in fact, openly inspired. They themselves have developed a so-called ten-year plan in which they emphasize precisely multilayer investment in cadet education.Youth team selections suddenly play many more friendly matches to gain practice and gradually become more competitive, while at the same time only someone without adequate education can no longer train their pupils or adolescents.

The second factor is perhaps a little underestimated by the public, and yet fundamental. After all, the lack of properly qualified coaches in youth structures is one explanation of the long-standing and much-discussed crisis of English production of quality talent. Until recently, this illness was permeating Macedonia irrespective of age.Even in the first league it was not customary for everyone to hold a UEFA A license, and instead took the practice of being formally headed by a holder of such a leader, but actually trained by someone less educated, technically only an assistant.

< p> This has only recently begun to change, namely in 2012 with the departure of long-time president of the union Hari Hagi-Risteski. His literally culminating act, which more or less became his place, was the bizarre assignment of Welshman John Toshack as a national team coach.In the Balkans, the menacingly unsuccessful Briton was recalled just after the end of the Hagi-Risteski era, and this symbolically began the journey to redress the football scene, where time was stopped by local expert Aleksandra Zlateski.

Of course, the Macedonian League does not rank among the Balkan, let alone the European, but the recent results of Vardar, Škëndije or Rabotnički at the international level suggest that something is still moving there.Vardar in the championships of the Champions League was unpleasantly welded to the Belarusian BATE Borisov (2012) and the Cyprus APOEL (2015).

In addition, each major league team now runs its own youth academy in Macedonia, with Vardar recently building a brand new training complex for its team, and Škëndija is currently working on the same. In particular, the development of youth is also to be facilitated by a special quota, whereby the first league team must place at least one Macedonian under the age of 21 in each match.Here, however, Aleksandar notes that he could easily imagine even more significant restrictions – such as the second highest competition, which is at least three such bachelors.

The truth is that smaller clubs have traditionally built more than one player under the age of 21, but those really elite clubs are usually getting good, which is the most important piece of knowledge about the country’s representation.In addition, there are cases of players like Marjan Radeski, who dropped out of Skendija as soon as he no longer fulfills the age criterion. Explain the twenty-twenty-twelve-year vision of the new leadership of the union – after all, its charm lies in the fact that it is a bunch of more or less unwanted and underestimated individuals than some exceptional talents. But the basis for the long-term rising level of the senior national team is just starting to build.

And that is desperately needed. Just on October 20, Macedonia set a new infamous record in the historically lowest FIFA ranking, dropping another nine places to 155 from September.position – to a company of countries like Myanmar, Barbados, Grenada, Mauritius or Lesotho. Five years ago, Macedonians were worried about falling to the 103rd place. Now their ambitions are quite different.

That is why, before ever, it is absolutely desirable to master the process of integrating junior representatives into adult structures.And what is positive: this key step began to be envisaged long before the final confirmation of the procedure to the euro, which, moreover, occurred only on the last day, even through the assistance of Ukraine, which already against Iceland in an outdoor win 4: 2 (! ) had nothing to play about.

Already last November, four stable 21-year articles (goalkeeper Aleksovski, defender Zajkov, midfielder Bardhi, striker Angelov) were specially called for a friendly senior match, and now, according to the original plan for a duel with Spain deserved promotion just eight of hope. “I think Bardhi, Zajkov, Velkovski and Demiri can start right off in a snap because of how poorly occupied the positions of the defensive midfielder, both the stoper, and the left beck,” Aleksandr Zlateski says.

Adding to this current adult pillars in the best years like Nestorovski (26), Alioski (24), Hasani (26) or Trajkovski (24), ‘more Albania’ cannot be categorically excluded in the future.Underneath, the midfielder Elif Elmas, born in 1999, is confidently coming to the forefront, headed to the Dutch Heerenveen, Netherlands, as a relatively experienced member of the narrower Rabotnički squad immediately after the 18th birthday party.

In other words: while Goran Pandev has already had a two-year break in the national team and will soon begin to focus more on his own club, which has just started to play in the second league this year, Macedonians finally see promising characters , which may be worth it.

And this impulse is very important in itself.Directly at the stadium with players the promotion to Euro “21” celebrated 20 thousand people, or at this level almost unseen visit, while Panděv himself on Instagram emotionally admitted that he would exchange all his club trophies and goals for one such experience with senior citizen.

Paradoxically, the coming generation will, after arriving at the next meeting, take on the role of teachers rather than apprentices: it will be optimistic to infect somewhat stagnant or apathetic veterans and their younger, probably ‘infected’ colleagues. / p>

Transition will certainly not be easy and it is already clear that it will require a certain amount of adaptability.Senior coach Igor Angelovski for the time being prefers unorthodox formation 3-5-2, which is said to stick to each other, which may well prove to be the first major obstacle in the smooth progress of the above.

On the other hand, despite the formation (Milevski is a fan of the classic 4-2-3-1), both coaches never go back to the unpopular bus parking tactics, and their wards always lead to activity, even directly, attack, which was confirmed even recently against Italy (2: 3 defeat in October). And this is undoubtedly a welcome, not automatic, match that could easily result in more Macedonian salvoes of joy…

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