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Date: 12/27/2018

Coach: Raul Gonzalez


Key Players: Kiril Lazarov (Right Back), Dejan Manaskov (Left Wing), Borko Ristovski (Goalkeeper)


Qualification for the 2019 World Championship: Winner of European qualification play-off versus Romania


History in Tournament: 1939-1990 as part of Yugoslavia, 1993-1997: DNQ, 1999: 18th, 2001-2007: DNQ, 2009: 11th, 2011: DNQ, 2013: 14th, 2015: 9th, 2017: 15th  


The 9th final place at Qatar 2015 was the best ever for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at a Men’s World Championship. Now guided by a successful coach such as Raul Gonzalez, their goal is to go far once again at Germany Denmark 2019.


It was on March 2017 when the Spanish-born coach Gonzalez took over in Macedonia. By then, he was already well-known in the country for leading HC Vardar to win the 2016/17 EHF Champions League. This year he was close to repeating that marvellous achievement as the Macedonian club reached the Final4 of the main European club competition once again.


Macedonia’s campaign at the 2018 EURO in Croatia could not have had a better start. With victories against Slovenia and Montenegro and a draw versus Germany, they finished at the top of Group C. But in the main round their level deflated and they were knocked out after losing to Spain, Czech Republic and Denmark. 


Raul Gonzalez’ job is to avoid their ups and downs and find a perfect balance between the team’s experienced and young players. When it comes to the way of playing, Macedonia superstar Kiril Lazarov believes that “we have our Macedonian style and when Raul became our coach, he improved that style – but it is true that he also introduced some Spanish elements.”


HBC Nantes right back Lazarov has scored more than 1,600 goals with the Macedonian jersey since he started wearing it in 1999. Even at 38, the level that made him a world-known athlete has not decreased and nor did his passion for this sport: “I love playing for my country and being part of this team, I love playing handball every day. I am highly motivated and constantly dream of achieving all the goals that I have not yet achieved.”


The two matches of the European Qualification to the 2019 World Championship against Romania – in which the Macedonians won 57:50 on aggregate – proved how valuable the player’s experience is in such cases.


27-year old left wing Dejan Manaskov was the top scorer of the two legs with 14 goals – the Telekom Veszprem HC player is now competing in the EHF Champions League for the ninth time. Lazarov followed him with 13 goals.


Another experienced player for Macedonia is SL Benfica goalkeeper Borko Ristovski – 36 years old and 30% save rate at the last EURO. But some of the young members of the squad are to be followed closely; such is the case of 22-year old Rhein-Neckar Löwen’s Filip Taleski. The right back played at the France 2017 World Championship and scored six goals – proof of his evolution is that he was Macedonia’s second highest scorer at Croatia 2018 with 21 goals.


Other athletes with positive conditions and still in a development process are HC Eurofarm Rabotnik Bitola centre back Filip Kuzmanovski (22 years old) and HC Vardar right wing Martin Popovski (24 years old).


Follow the Macedonian Federation on their website and on Facebook.


Group at Germany/Denmark 2019

Group B: Spain, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Iceland, Bahrain, Japan


Games at Germany/Denmark 2019
All times local

Friday 11 January            Japan vs FYR Macedonia (15:30)

Sunday 13 January          FYR Macedonia vs Bahrain (14:00)
Monday 14 January        Croatia vs FYR Macedonia (18:00)
Wednesday 16 January  FYR Macedonia vs Spain (20:30)
Thursday 17 January       FYR Macedonia vs Iceland (18:00)


IHF & Germany/Denmark 2019 Official Channels

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Photo: Macedonian Handball Federation