FYR Macedonia are blending youth and experience
FYR Macedonia are blending youth and experience
The Men’s EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia will be the fourth consecutive international competition for the Macedonian national team, and the fifth in total.
The fifth position at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia is the best result for the Macedonians, who are looking forward to new challenges in Croatia with Raul Gonzalez’s first appearance at a big event as the head coach of the national team.
Gonzalez succeeded Lino Cervar in April 2017 and he led the team successfully through the qualification stage for this championship.
FYR Macedonia are in a process of rejuvenation and Gonzalez has a mix of experienced and young players at his disposal. Compared to the World Championship 2017 in France, Gonzalez has brought back in Borko Ristovski, Aco Jonovski and Nemanja Pribak.
On the other hand, Marko Nelovski, Blagojce Trajkovski and Stefan Drogirski have been left out of the squad since the EHF EURO Qualification in June, and they won’t appear on the court in Croatia.
At the World Championship 2009 in Croatia and again at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, a Macedonian player was the top scorer of the competition. Kiril Lazarov became the first and, so far only, player in the history of the European competition to break the 1,000-goal barrier.
The Macedonian goal machine is still the strongest asset of the team, and will again take the biggest responsibility when it comes to the offensive game.
His first season in the Nantes jersey might not have been his best ever with just 25 goals in the VELUX EHF Champions League, but that won’t affect his status in the national team. Opponents in Group C will have their difficulties to find a way to stop one of the best backcourt players in the world.
In addition, Filip Mirkulovski, Nemanja Pribak, Filip Taleski and Filip Kuzmanovski will support him in the backcourt line, while Dejan Manaskov and Goce Georgievski will be the key players on the wings.
While the previous head coach, Lino Cervar, overlooked Aco Jonovski for the World Championship, current coach Raul Gonzalez has invited the 36-year-old defence specialist back again to the national team.
Jonovski and Velko Markoski are the key players in the defence. In addition, the central defence is further strengthened by Vardar captain Stojance Stoilov.
Goalkeeper Borko Ristovski made a solid comeback in goal during the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification, and he was one of the players that pushed FYR Macedonia to first place in Group 4.
The defence has been the main talking point of the Macedonians during the build-up to the EHF EURO. Gonzalez focused on changes to the traditional 6-0 defence but, due to the absence of several players in the preparation period, hasn’t been able to really test a 5-1 formation.
Since April, the Macedonian national team has been led by Spain’s Raul Gonzalez, who steered Vardar to VELUX EHF Champions League glory before being named the best coach of Europe’s premier club competition.
Gonzalez has demonstrated that he is mastermind in defence, and his experience will surely strengthen the Macedonian team, especially when it comes to the discipline and the tactics.
When he succeeded Lino Cervar as head coach in April, Gonzalez successfully led the Macedonians through the qualification process for the EHF EURO in Croatia. They left the Czech Republic, Iceland and Ukraine behind to top qualifying Group 4.
However, Gonzalez’s work mainly focuses on building a team for the future, and the upcoming EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia is a stepping stone in this process.
FYR Macedonia will play in Group C, where they meet Germany and two Balkan opponents, Slovenia and Montenegro. The head coaches of the last two teams, Veselin Vujovic and Dragan Djukic, are well known to the Macedonians since they have both been head coaches of the national team, but Gonzalez doesn’t believe this is a disadvantage.
Many believe FYR Macedonia will have to fight for the third position in the group with Montenegro, but the players are not speculating.
“When it comes to us, one can never know what to expect,” Manaskov told local media. “There is always a possibility that we are defeated by Montenegro but win against Slovenia and Germany. We don’t have 20 extra players but those who are on the court, always give their maximum.”
The 21 players selected by FYR Macedonia for the Men’s EHF EURO 2018:
Goalkeepers: Nikola Mitrevski (HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta), Borko Ristovski (FC Barcelona), Zlatko Daskalovski (SCM Politehnica Timisoara), Martin Tomovski (HC Metalurg)
Wingers: Dejan Manaskov (Veszprém), Goce Georgievski (CSM Bucuresti), Goce Ojleski (Eurofarm Rabotnik), Martin Popovski (HC Vardar)
Line players: Stojance Stoilov (HC Vardar), Zharko Peshevski ( HC Metalurg), Nikola Markovski (Oroshazi FKSE)
Backcourt players: Aco Jonovski (SG Ratingen 2011), Velko Markovski (HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta), Filip Taleski (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Filip Lazarov (Besiktas), Nemanja Pribak (Besiktas), Filip Kuzmanovski (HC Metalurg), Goran Krstevski (Eurofarm Rabotnik), Filip Mirkilovski (Wetzlar), Kiril Lazarov (Nantes), Martin Velkovski (HC Metalurg).