Football in the Republic of Macedonia

Football is one of the most popular sports in the Republic of Macedonia.[1][2] The country became a member of FIFA in 1994. The national team has made a few remarkable results in qualifiers for the European Championship as well as the World Cup. The most sensational result was probably the 2-2 draw away against England (October 2002). Two years later the Netherlands were held to a 2–2 draw at home (October 2004). The away-game the following year in Amsterdam also ended with a draw (0–0). On October 7, 2006, once again England was held to a draw in Manchester. And on November 17, 2007, Macedonia beat the group winners, Croatia, 2–0.

History

The beginnings of football in Macedonia date back to the early 20th century. Actually, the first match was played in Skopje on April 20, 1919. It was the selection of the English army composed of the best players among the recruits, against Napredok of Skopje, Napredok would win the match by the score of 2-0. At that place in token of remembrance of the contest, was erected a monument in the form of soccer ball weighing about 250 pounds, because it was the first official soccer match played on the territory of Macedonia. The monument was erected in 1979, to mark the anniversary of 70 years since the start of football in Macedonia.[3]

Since 1909, many clubs have been formed, with the most prominent Macedonian club from Skopje, FK Vardar being officially established in 1912. Due to certain wars and invasions, Macedonian teams had been a part of the Belgrade Football Subassociation (1913-1939), Bulgarian WWII Regional Football League (1939-1945), and Yugoslav Football League System (1945-1992). During the second World War, the selection of Macedonian clubs played against the selection of the German army, and played matches against Bulgaria. In the period from 1945 to 1991, Macedonia did not have its own national team because it was part of Yugoslavia. In 1945, after the second World War, was created a football section of the Association of Sports in Skopje with Gustav Vlahov as president. Finally on 14 August 1949, the Macedonian Football Association was formed and was part of the Football Association of Yugoslavia until 1991, when Macedonia declared independence. The first president of the Football Federation of Macedonia was Ljubisav Ivanov - Dzingo.

The first championship in the Macedonia was organized in the season 1992/93, in which 18 teams participated. Vardar from Skopje was the first champion without a lost match. They would also win the first ever Macedonian Cup. In 1994, Macedonia became a member of FIFA and UEFA after the break-up of SFR Yugoslavia. In 1995, for the first time Macedonian clubs participated in European Cup matches. As champions, FK Vardar played in the UEFA Cup against Hungarian side Békéscsaba and lost 1-2 on aggregate. FK Sileks played in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, eliminating Vác Samsung in the first qualifying round before losing to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the next round.

The national team began its football journey with a 4–1 win against Slovenia in a friendly on 13 October 1993 under coach Andon Dončevski. They went on to win their next two friendlies against Slovenia and Estonia before suffering their first loss against Turkey on 31 August 1994 (before this they lost to Club Atlético Peñarol 0–4 in Montevideo in February 1994). The inaugural Macedonia side featured Darko Pančev, who won the European Champions League with Red Star Belgrade in 1991 and also played for Internazionale in Italy. The Euro 96 Qualifiers was the first major qualifying tournament that Macedonia participated in as an independent nation and they were grouped with Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Cyprus, and Armenia. In their opening game, which was also their first ever official match, Macedonia was drawn against the reigning European Champions Denmark. The game was played at the City Stadium in Skopje on 7 September 1994 and it finished 1–1 (the first goal was scored by Mitko Stojkovski) with Macedonia leading for most of the game after scoring in the fourth minute. Since then, Macedonia has been participating in all FIFA and UEFA sanctioned qualifying tournaments.

References

External links

  • Macedonian Football (English)
  • Football Federation of Macedonia (Macedonian)
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