For FYR Macedonia and Czech Republic it is a bit like Groundhog Day. Whenever there is a qualification or play-off to be played, they meet.
It was the case in the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification in which FYR Macedonia won the decisive game 32:28 against the Czechs. It was the case in the World Championship 2017 Play-offs which the Macedonians won by just one goal aggregate.
And it will be again the case in the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification as both teams have been drawn to Group 4 and will on 5 November in the Czech town of Plzen.
“We are aware that there very tough matches in front of us. We are going to face good opponents which have great players in their squads. The first match against Ukraine (on 2 November) will be crucial for us,” says right wing Goce Georgievski.
“If we win it have a double positive effect for us. It will increase our chances to qualify for the European Championship in Croatia and also at the same time will increase our confidence for the second game against an opponent we know very well – the Czech Republic.”
Lino Cervar at the helm
FYR Macedonia’s failure to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics was followed by some decisive changes in the national team. Lino Cervar, who has been coaching Skopje-based side HC Metalurg for a number of years, also took over the head coach position in the national team.
His debut was successful as he led the Macedonian side to the aggregate victory against Czech Republic in the World Championship 2017 Play-offs, but at the same time these two games were the final ones for Macedonian handball greats Naumche Mojsovski and Filip Mirkulovski.
Their retirement forced the national federation and Lino Cervar to think about measures how to insert some fresh blood to the team.
One of the first steps takes was to hold handball camps across the country to improve the level of play and better the communication between these regional centres and the capital – eventually, in an ideal scenario, hidden talents will be discovered and join the national team.
“Rejuvenation is a must for every team and right now it happens in our national team. I think we have a good future because there are young players who can contribute to the national team. All we need is to properly work with them and I’m sure that good results will follow,” says Goce Georgievski.