In their maiden attempt 13 years ago, Macedonia put in a remarkable effort in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, beating Liechtenstein (twice), the Republic of Ireland and Iceland. While these results were not enough to obtain a ticket to France 1998, the Balkan nation emerged with its head held high. Unfortunately, they were unable to maintain those high standards, never posing a real threat during the 2002, 2006 or 2010 qualification campaigns. To their credit, the Macedonians did manage two draws with the Netherlands on the road to Germany 2006.
The current crop
As is typical of all of the constituent nations of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia rely on players that are technically gifted. Their key performers have gained a wealth of experience in major European leagues – none more so than forward Goran Pandev, who has enjoyed great success in Italy – a factor that often enables the eastern Europeans to raise their game against the more established nations. The only attribute the Macedonians appear to lack is consistency, something they will hope to correct as they attempt to secure their passage to Brazil 2014.
Best performance in a FIFA competition: None
Former stars: Gjorgji Hristov, Darko Pancev