North Macedonia national football team
The North Macedonia national football team represents North Macedonia in international football. The national team plays its home matches at the Toše Proeski Arena in Skopje. North Macedonia secured its first ever major tournament qualification, as they will play in the UEFA Euro 2020 thanks to its performance in Nations League. The first football clubs were formed in Ottoman times at the beginning of the 20th century.
About North Macedonia national football team in brief
The North Macedonia national football team represents North Macedonia in international football, and is controlled by the Football Federation of Macedonia. The national team plays its home matches at the Toše Proeski Arena in Skopje. North Macedonia secured its first ever major tournament qualification, as they will play in the UEFA Euro 2020 thanks to its performance in Nations League. The first football clubs were formed in Ottoman times at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1994, the Republic of Macedonia became a single member of FIFA, and UEFA after the independence and split of the Yugoslavia. In the period between 1945 and 1991, SR Macedonia was ineligible to play as a team for official matches. The team had mostly played exhibition matches against teams from other republics of SFRJ and was represented by Macedonian players under the traditional red, yellow and white colors. The inaugural Macedonian side featured Darko Pančev, who played for Inter Milan 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. They failed to qualify for Euro 96, finishing fourth in the group with seven points. Macedonia’s first qualifying attempt for the World Cup saw them grouped with Romania, Ireland, Lithuania, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Half of the goals Macedonia scored in the entire campaign were scored in this match alone. They were unsuccessful in their opening match, going down to Slovakia 2–0 in Slovakia on 3 September 2000.
The 2004 Qualifiers saw Macedonia record one of the most memorable results of its short history, which saw them record a 2–2 draw with England. On 16 October 2002, Macedonia played former world champions England in Southampton in Southampton, which was England’s first home game in almost 100 years. On 12 August 2009, as part of the 100-year anniversary of football on its current territory, the team played a friendly match against Spain. The hosts lost 3–2 before 30,000 crowd. However, Macedonia managed to score a second equaliser in the second half and took the game 2–1 at home in the return leg in September 2003, which took place in Southampton. The Macedonians once again failed to qualifier for the 2002 World Cup, which were held in Japan and South Korea. They finished fourth in their qualifying campaign with eight points. They went on to win their next two friendlies against Slovenia and Estonia, and beat Malta 4–0 at home on 6 September 1998. They also managed to win its first four games of the campaign, including a 3–0 win at home against Liech tenstein. Despite failing to win any of the games, they managed to record two draws against England away, two draws to the Netherlands both away and home, a draw to Slovakia at home, and a win against Serbia at home. The game in Southampton was England’s first home match in nearly 100 years, and Macedonia took the lead early in the first half after Artim Šakiri scored directly from a corner kick.