Macedonia Qualifies for Euro2020: A Look At Its Qualifying Round History
The Macedonian national football team has qualified for the European Championship for the first time since declaring independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, with a 1-0 win over Georgia at Tbilisi’s Dinamo Arena.
The game, played behind closed doors because of Georgia’s coronavirus restrictions, was the biggest in the history of both nations, and the closest either had ever come to qualifying for a major tournament.
As such, the first half was a predominantly tense and dull affair with neither side being willing to take any considerable risks. It took a stunning passage of play and a subsequent 56th minute strike from veteran 37-year old stalwart and Genoa striker, Goran Pandev, to give Macedonia the lead.
Other notable performances came from the likes of 21-year-old Napoli midfielder, Elif Elmas, and Leeds United’s Ezgjan Alioski.
Despite the gravity of the situation, the red lions, buoyed on by coach Igor Angelovski - who has been in the role since October 2015 - went on to maintain their composure and control the tempo of the game until the end to see them through to Euro2021.
“I am so happy. I’ve have played in a lot of games like this before and I think my experience helped the team to achieve this success,” said Pandev. “We will play for our nation’s pride in the finals,” said Angelovski. “Pandev scored a beautiful goal to take us through.”
It sparked jubilant celebrations both on the pitch (below), in Macedonia (also below) and across a Macedonian diaspora that has been eagerly awaiting this moment for 28 years, having failed on 12 previous Euro and World Cup qualification efforts (Macedonia's entire history of qualification runs can be found below).
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The victory might be an omen of things to come, as Macedonia, officially the Republic of North Macedonia, entered into European Union accession talks this year after a decades long dispute with Greece over its name.
Euro2021, originally slated to take place this year, will be held from June 11 to July 11, and for the first time it will be held across 12 countries instead of one, in order to mark the 60th anniversary of the tournament. Macedonia will face off with the Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria in the group stage.
Macedonia’s Painful Qualifying Round History
Euro 96 Qualifying round (Group 2)
Macedonia finished 4th in its first ever run at a major tournament as an independent nation.
World Cup 98 Qualifying round (Group 8)
Euro 2000 Qualifying Round (Group 8)
World Cup 2002 Qualifying Round (Group 4)
Euro 2004 Qualifying Round (Group 7)
...okay, this is beyond a joke now...
World Cup 2006 Qualifying Round (Group 1)
Great, no more 4th...only, it’s a step back, finishing a distant 5th this time.
Euro 2008 Qualifying Round (Group E)
Here we go again...
World Cup 2010 Qualifying Round (Group 9)
Ahh...back to the familiarity of 4th.
Euro 2012 Qualifying Round (Group B)
If ever there was light, then this marks the start of the dark period of Macedonian football...
World Cup 2014 Qualifying Round (Group A)
I told ya it was going to get dark...finishing with just 7 points from 10 games, and finishing dead last this time around.
Euro 2016 Qualifying Round (Group C)
And just to show you 2014 was no fluke...last again with 4 points this time!
World Cup 2018 Qualifying Round (Group G)
A modest improvement, but it could be worse...it could be Liechtenstein.
Euro 2020 Qualifying Round
Oh mein gott!