FYR Macedonia vs Ireland

June 3, 2011
By: John Hansen

After losing 2:1 in Dublin, Macedonia are in a position that only a victory in this match would keep them in the running for the place at the final tournament, but that looks easier said than done. Republic of Ireland have proved their credentials with impressive performances at the Nations Cup and they are now aiming for a win that would see them remain in the first place.

Tough task for Macedonia

Following some utterly disappointing performances in the World Cup 2010 qualifiers, Macedonia have shown some improvement in the friendly games preceding the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, although friendly wins over sides like Canada and Azerbaijan hardly placed them in a good stead before the start of this qualifying campaign. Macedonia started the campaign with a defeat in Slovakia, while home draw to Armenia and defeat at home to Russia served as big blows to the players’ confidence. Friendly defeats to China and Cameroon did nothing to improve the atmosphere in the squad, whereas the defeat in Ireland poured more misery on Mirsad Jonuz’s side. Macedonia now face a very tough task as they have to beat high-flying Ireland while being extremely low on confidence, so you will forgive me for thinking that is unlikely to happen.

This Macedonia squad look pretty good at the back, but there is an evident lack of quality in midfield and attack, with Inter’s Goran Pandev the only notable player in the squad.

Ireland top of the crop

If it hadn’t been for Thierry Henry’s blatant hand ball, Ireland would have probable played at the World Cup in South Africa, but the incident didn’t stop the team in their stride but only made them stronger. After some pretty good showings in the build up to the Euro 2012 qualifiers, Ireland started the campaign with wins over Armenia and Andorra, while the team quickly made amends for the home defeat to Russia by brining one point from Slovakia and beating Macedonia at home. Meanwhile, the Irish beat Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to win the Nations Cup, meaning they are brimming with confidence before the trip to Macedonia. Going unbeaten in last 10 away games, Ireland have clearly improved their showings in the travels, as witnessed by the victory in Armenia, the place where not even the best European sides could pick up maximum points in the past.

Robbie Keane should be able to play despite picking up a groin problem in training, but Richard Dunne and Kevin Doyle miss out.


Macedonia have been utterly disappointing in this qualifying campaign, with Russia and Armenia already picking up points from Skopje. Ireland, on the other hand, are doing great at the moment and they should have enough in them to win this game and thus remain in pole position.

Our prediction: Away win

Odds: 2.10 (11/10)

Bookmaker: Stan James

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