For veteran followers in the Champions League and Serie A, Goran Pandev will be familiar with.
The 37-year-old has a successful career at the top of the Italian game. The climax came in 2009-10, when he was a valued Inter player who won a hat-trick under Jose Mourinho, whom the striker later described as « like a father. ». .
He scores 95 goals in 447 Serie A matches with Lazio, Inter, Napoli and now Genoa, and Pandev is looking forward to a century of strikes in Serie A ahead of the 2020-21 season – and whose contract expires as his contract expires, it could also be his last campaign at the level The top of European football.
It will not expire when his contract in Genoa expires, however, next summer – if coronavirus permits – Pandev will celebrate the highest level of his career..
Pandev will lead the North Macedonia squad that will play in the postponed European Championship, as the country qualified for its first major tournament, 27 years after it gained independence from Yugoslavia.
They reached the finals through playoff matches, emerging victorious from the four countries in Track D – none of them had qualified for a major competition before.
After beating Kosovo 2-1 in Skopje in October – playoffs were reduced to first-leg matches as a result of the pandemic – North Macedonia defeated Georgia in Tbilisi on Thursday night, Pandev’s goal in the 56th minute after a great team. Move on, proof enough to make history.
“I am very emotional and happy. We played a great game. « We have remained united and united, » Pandev said proud to the UEFA website right after the match.. “We won for our people and all of you. The dream has come true!
“We have a young group but the boys are strong and have a good future ahead. Before the match, I spoke with the team and told them to stay calm. In the end, we won, and I’m so excited.
The strange system in the Euro 2020 play-off match always awarded a gold ticket to one unexpected country, as the new process ensured that each division was represented in the 2018-19 European Nations League. .
The winners of the group of four groups in the D-League – Georgia, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Belarus – were placed in parentheses, and although they only played among the lowest ranked teams in Europe, they suddenly found themselves two matches from one of the world’s biggest soccer tournaments..
North Macedonia – which saw its loss in the 2018 Nations League in Armenia 4-0 but tops the group thanks to its home and away victories over Gibraltar and Liechtenstein – and thus, will compete in the postponed European Championship 2020, in the 2016 quarter – Iceland qualifying for the finals, Bosnia and Herzegovina, who have reached the World Cup in the past, and Norway, led by Erling Haaland, must remain in their countries..
North Macedonia cannot be blamed for UEFA’s logic. They made their way into history and will now face the Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria in Group C of Euro 2020.
While the plan to host the tournament across 12 countries is under threat due to Covid-19, North Macedonia is currently scheduled to play its matches in the Netherlands and Romania..
Their first match in the tournament will be against Austria in Bucharest on June 13, before facing Ukraine at the same venue four days later.. .
Their last group match was at the Johan Cruyff Arena against the Dutch on June 21 – a tough result, but given that the four best third-placed teams have reached the knockout stages, and the third group is far from the toughest in the tournament, they should Northern Macedonia has high hopes of emulating Iceland, Hungary and Northern Ireland from 2016 by surprisingly winning a round of 16 place.. .
Doing so will require more than just relying on Pandev’s mantra – and many players have experience participating in a major international tournament, having played for Macedonia in the 2017 European U-21 Championship. .
The most striking player on the team is Elif Elmas, the 21-year-old attacking midfielder who lined up just behind Pandev in Tbilisi and plays football with his club with Napoli. .
Elmas has completed 90 minutes only four times for Naples since the 16 million euros (14 million GBP / $ 18 million) transfer from Fenerbahce in the summer of 2019 and is used more regularly as a secondary effect.. .
However, since his international debut at the age of 17, he has been a major figure for his country, as evidenced by his skill and leadership that helped reach the Pandev winner on Thursday. His creativity will be an invaluable asset in Euro 2020 for a team that is likely to make a lot of defense.
Levante midfielder Anis Bardi missed the Georgia match due to injury. The 25-year-old has proven himself a free-kicks specialist in La Liga – two seasons ago, only Lionel Messi scored more free-kicks than in La Liga.. .
A familiar name to English football fans is Izgan Alyoski, the Leeds United player who played left-back on Thursday but is often used in a more attacking role..
However, there is no doubt that Pandev is the leading light and will provide inspiration for North Macedonia at Euro 2020.
His international career was not always smooth – he quit after failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, before returning to the 2018 season under current coach Igor Angelowski..
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North Macedonia National Football Team, Goran Pandev, Euro 2020, North Macedonia, European Nations League, Georgia
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