There is – as with group opponent Czech Republic – a key element in the FYR Macedonian game: top scorer Kiril Lazarov and after spending many years in Veszpem and Zagreb, he currently plays for EHF Champions League regulars Atletico Madrid.
Lazarov is called the most important man in the game, this was clear already in the qualification stages for the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia. After the Macedonians were defeated by Iceland and Norway, thus failing to reach the qualification stage for EURO 2010, the team this time rose to the challenge and pushed through to rank behind Hungary and above Estonia.
The qualification was for the host of the 2008 Women’s EHF EURO very important, having not only missed the EHF EURO in 2010 but also the 2011 World Championship.
The most important player next to Lazarov is goalkeeper Bosko Ristovski. A decisive advantage for the Balkan team may be the volume of support from the home fans that are going to make the pilgrimage in their thousands to Niš.
As was seen at the 2009 World Championship in Croatia, this factor was critical for the entry to the Main Round; the team placed 11th in the final rankings. This was, for the men from this small country in the Balkans, their greatest success to date.
The national team from FYR Macedonia ranked second in Group 2 of the qualification. This performance secured the team a place at the Final Tournament.
The 29-year-old goalkeeper has been the number one in FYR Macedonia for many years and plays for Metalurg Skopje under coaching legend Lino Cervar. His career began in 1995 at Rabotnicki before moving to Metalurg for the first time and later to city rivals Vardar. His first international tournament was with the junior national team at the 2000 European Championship in Greece. Two years later, he was between the posts in Poland at another younger age category event. In 2006 Ristovski moved to Spain and was the first player from FYR Macedonia to play in the Spanish league ASOBAL. Since 2009 Ristovski is back playing in Skopje.
A classic shooter Lazarov started out in the FYR Macedonian first division playing for Pelister Bitola until he moved to RK Zagreb in 2000. His next contract came from MKB Veszprem two years later. In this time he won the Hungarian championship four times and won his first EHF Champions League Top Scorer accolade (he repeated this in 2009). In 2007 he returned to RK Zagreb where he won an additional three national championship titles before moving to Ciudad Real in 2010. Lazarov is known for many spectacular achievements including scoring 92 goals in 10 matches – a feat that remains unrivalled.
The fact that FYR Macedonia has qualified for an EHF EURO for the first time in over a decade is also to be credited to Zvonko Sundovski. The 44-year-old was called to the national team for the second time in his career has taken his team to Serbia. His first station as a coach was in 2003 with the club team Pelister Bitola, which he led to the double win of the national championship and cup. Already in 2006, Sundovski was coaching not only the men’s junior national team but also the men’s senior national team, whom he led until 2009 through their World Championship journey in Croatia. In the season 2009/10 Sundovski trained Metalurg Skopje and led the club as Macedonian champions into the EHF Champions League as well as into the quarterfinal of the EHF Cup Winners’ Cup. “The qualification to Serbia meant an enormous step for our team. Now we want to also make it into the Main Round” said Sundovski.
|15.01.||19:30||SWE vs MKD|
|17.01.||18:15||MKD vs GER|
|19.01.||20:15||CZE vs MKD|
FYR Macedonian Handball Federation Website: www.macedoniahandball.com