Wednesday, November 15, 2006Katanec' EURO 2008 campaign becomes a "mission impossible"
Igor Krstic - http://www.jadransport.org
The Macedonian national team seemingly plays a much better football, when they are on foreign ground. Until now Srecko Katanec' team won all of their 7 points in away matches, while they lost both of their home matches in the Gradski stadium in Skopje. In their second home match defeat today against Russia, they lost all the 3 points already after 30 minutes ...
Dominant Russians - Insecure Macedonians
The first 30 minutes of the match must have been a nightmare for coach Srecko Katanec, as his team completely failed to produce any meaningful action on the pitch. Usually the strongest part of his team, the defence around Noveski, Petrov, Sedloski and Mitrevski looked amateurish at times, losing easy ball posessions and producing one mistake after another. It might have been the loss of their two most prominent players, Goran Pandev (S.S. Lazio) and Ilco Naumoski (SV Mattersburg), which caused that lack of self-confidence. Nevertheless their absence was a clear fact since several weeks, which the team should have been prepared for and so this can't be an excuse for the very weak perfromance of Katanec' team in the first half. The Russians clearly dominated the first 30 - 40 minutes and deservedly went in front by goals from Bystrov (18') and Arshavin (32'). Especially Russia's No. 10, Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St. Petersburg) proved to be an insolvable task for Macedonia's shaky defence. On the other side, the Macedonian attack produced near to nothing in the first half. Especially Partizan attacker Aco Stojkov seemed to be completly overstrained with his Russian defenders and barely could get a hold of the ball.
Better second half
After the break, we saw a much better Macedonian squad on the pitch of the cram-full Gradski stadium in Skopje. Aging midfielder Artim Sakiri was substituted after only 35 minutes, as he probably displayed one of his worst and also most probably last performances in the Macedonian national team. His irresponsibly sloppy performance today must be a clear sign for Katanec to better rely on younger players in the future. The Macedonians came out of the half time break with a fresh brease of new self confidence and less insecurities, which also resulted in a more aggressive attitude and several chances. It was especially Goran Maznov who had 2 good chances to score with his head during the second half. The previously disappointing Aco Stojkov also improved quite a lot and showed, that he was rightfully selected into the squad. The Russians though were always dangerous with their quick counter attacks, lead by the magnificent Andrei Arshavin, who without doubt proved to become "Man of the Match". At the end, even the improved performance in the second half was not enough to score at least one goal against a strong opponent, who was tactically superior on this evening. Although there was no superiority visible by means of football, Katanec' EURO 2008 mission has become nearly a "mission impossile" now.
Macedonia vs. Russia 0:2
0:1 Russia, Bystrov (18')
0:2 Russia, Arshavin (32')
Nikoloski, Noveski, Petrov, Sedloski, I. Mitrevski, Lazarevski, Sumulikoski, Sakiri (35' Tasevski), A. Mitreski (45' Jancevski) (71' Grozdanovski), Maznov, Stojkov
Akinfeev, V. Berezutskiy, A Berezutskiy, Kolodin, Bystrov, Bilyaletdinov, Semshov, Zhirkov, Titov, Arshavin (90' Pavlyuchenko), Pogrebnyak (57' Sychev)
43' Macedonia, Petrov
51' Russia, Pogrebnyak
65' Russia, Sychev
87' Russia, Kolodin
Man of the Match: Andrei Arshavin
Labels: Macedonian National Team
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Coach Katanec urges patience in what should prove to be a tricky match…14.11.2006 by Steven Vasilevski - http://www.jadransport.org
Skopje’s Gradski Stadium will no doubt be alight for Wednesday’s encounter with Russia, but Macedonia coach Srecko Katanec is urging a word of caution: be patient. Katanec has his men playing some excellent football to start their Euro 2008 campaign, earning two wins and a tie, including a 0-0 draw away at England, for seven points from four games-a marked turnaround from previous endeavours. But while there is reason to be optimistic in Macedonia, there is also reason to be vigilant: Russia seems to have returned to form in their 2-0 defeat of Estonia last month, while Katanec’s squad will be without some popular names. Add to this equation a generally irritable mix of Gradski soccer fans, and Macedonia might be in for a rough ride.
Macedonia could be struggling to find the opposing net in the absence of key forwards Goran Pandev (S.S. Lazio) and Ilco Naumoski (SV Mattersburg), both on disciplinary suspensions. PFC CSKA Sofia defender Robert Petrov has also been dropped from the team’s roster due to injury, a considerable blow given his part in a Macedonian rearguard that has allowed only a single goal thus far. Finding suitable replacements could be a problem, although no changes to Katanec’s preferred 3-4-1-2 formation are expected. On a positive note, the return of AC Omonia midfielder Vlatko Grozdanovski will surely provide Macedonia with a much-needed morale boost, while Goran Maznov (KSC Lokeren OV), Aco Stojkov (FK Partizan), and newest addition Stevica Ristic (FK Sileks) are all more than capable up front.
Hiddink: Out with the old, in with the new
After winning much praise for Australia’s admirable performance in World Cup 2006, recent decisions by coach Guus Hiddink have been met with some skepticism. Gearing up for their away match in Skopje, Hiddink has left out veteran players Dmitri Loskov, Vladislav Ramimov, and Aleksei Smertin in favour of youngsters and FK Spartak Moskva teammates Roman Shishkin, Aleksei Rebko, and Dmitri Torbinsky. Also making the cut are 22-year-olds Ivan Taranov of PFC CSKA Moskva, and Igor Denisov of FC Zenit St. Petersburg. Despite their inexperience at the international level, Hiddink is confident that speed and intensity will see his boys through. He is similarly convinced that Wednesday’s game is do-or-die for Russia, which currently finds itself two points behind Croatia, England, Israel, and Macedonia in a tightly contested Group E.
First place up for grabs
A Macedonian win in tomorrow’s fixture could give the perennial underachievers sole possession atop Group E, depending on the outcome of Croatia’s encounter with Israel. Russia can also steal first place after Wednesday’s match-ups, speaking to the quality and unpredictability of this group. Hands-down favourites England have already had a rude-awakening, losing most recently to Croatia in Zagreb. Anything is possible in soccer-as they say, “the ball is round”-but a win for Macedonia or Russia will see them well into the new year. Surely these two uncertain sides will spend some time feeling each other out, but after the anticipated early jitters dissipate, tomorrow’s game at Skopje’s Gradski Stadium is poised to be a dandy for devoted fans and casual spectators alike.
Euro 2008 Qualifying Table - Group E
Team Played Points Goals
England 4 7 6:2
Croatia 3 7 9:0
Macedonia 4 7 4:1
Israel 3 7 6:2
Russia 3 5 3:1
Estonia 3 0 0:4
Andorra 4 0 1:19
Labels: Macedonian National Team
Tuesday, November 07, 2006Macedonia coach Srecko Katanec believes Russia will pose a greater threat than England when his side take on Guus Hiddink's men in a Euro 2008 qualifier on November 15.
Macedonia claimed a goalless draw against England last month, having lost narrowly against the same opponents four weeks earlier.
Katanec reckons Russia will be an even tougher nut to crack.
He said: "This opponent is even harder than England, because they are unpredictable. They keep the ball a long time, so we will have to be patient and cautious."
Macedonian squad for the match against Russia:
Goalkeepers: Jane Nikolovski (NK Slaven Koprivnica), Tome Pacovski (FK Rabotnicki).
Defenders: Goce Sedloski (SV Mattersburg), Igor Mitreski (FC Energie Cottbus), Nikolce Noveski (1. FSV Mainz 05), Aleksandar Vasoski (Eintracht Frankfurt), Robert Petrov (PFC CSKA Sofia), Robert Popov (PFC Litex Lovech), Vlade Lazarevski (Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski).
Midfielders: Igor Jancevski (Enosis Neon Paralimni FC), Velice Sumulikoski (Bursaspor), Darko Tasevski (FC Metalurh Zaporizhya), Artim Sakiri (FC International Turku), Aleksandar Mitreski (1. FC Köln), Vlatko Grozdanovski (AC Omonia).
Forwards: Aco Stojkov (FK Partizan), Goran Maznov (KSC Lokeren OV), Stevica Ristic (FK Sileks).
Labels: Macedonian National Team
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