Cedomir Janevski hopes Tartan Army frustration will be Macedonia advantage
MACEDONIA coach Cedomir Janevski hopes to turn his Scotland counterpart Craig Levein’s rocky relationship with the Tartan Army to his advantage tonight as he plots one of the Balkan nation’s greatest away victories.
The former Yugoslav republic have a poor record on the road since gaining independence in 1994, one which showed no signs of improvement last season when they won only once in seven away games and suffered defeats in both Luxembourg and Armenia.
But Macedonia have been buoyed by their performance in Janevski’s first competitive fixture since replacing John Toshack in the summer – last Friday night’s World Cup Group A opener against Croatia in Zagreb, where they were widely regarded as unfortunate to lose 1-0 to a Nikica Jelavic goal.
Janevski, the 51-year-old former Bruges and Red Star Belgrade coach, is optimistic his team can get their first points on the board at Hampden this evening.
He watched Scotland’s goalless draw at home to Serbia on Saturday and took particular note of the jeers which greeted the final whistle. He believes the longer Macedonia can frustrate the Scots, the greater anxiety from the home fans could have an adverse effect on Levein’s players.
“The longer the game goes without us conceding a goal, the better our confidence will be, especially away from home,” said Janevski.
“You don’t know how the reaction of the Scotland supporters could be in that situation.
“We have to focus for the 90 minutes. Sometimes that can be very decisive.
“Scotland at home are favourites and can beat anyone here. But we have confidence and we are going to try to have a good performance and take points away with us from Glasgow. I don’t know if Scotland can play better than they did against Serbia. But they have the potential to beat anyone at home. They have only lost at home to the big teams in the past.
“We played very, very well against Croatia on Friday. It was disappointing not to take something from the match, but we have more confidence as a team now because of the way we played.
“The Scotland coach has his problems, I have mine. I need to motivate my players again after a disappointing result but, from what I have seen in them over the last few days, I know they are already motivated to do well in Glasgow.”
Janevski was giving nothing away in terms of his team selection, but is expected to keep faith with most of those who played in Zagreb. There could be a return in midfield for former Ipswich Town player Velice Sumulikoski, who missed out against Croatia because of suspension.
As ever, striker and captain Goran Pandev will be the focal point of the Macedonian side as the Napoli man looks to add to his tally of 25 international goals when he wins his 67th cap.
“We are a small country, so I can’t make many changes,” said Janevski. “But I’m happy with the choices I have. People talk about Pandev, but we like to be a collective and I have confidence in all of my players.”
Janevski, however, believes both Scotland and Macedonia may already be destined to be scuffling for the minor placings in Group A.
“It’s no secret that Belgium are favourites to win the group,” he added. “They have the most talented individuals in the group and in each position they have two top players. Second, you have Croatia who had a very good Euro 2012 and also have many talented players.”
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