The country are preparing for their first major international tournament and their 37-year-old captain believes they can survive the group stage

Goran Pandev says North Macedonia have made history by qualifying for Euro 2020 and their goal is to progress beyond the group stage.

North Macedonia secured a place in a major international tournament for the first time when they beat Georgia in the play-offs.

Pandev says his country should be proud just to reach the finals, but is confident they can put in a strong performance.

What has been said?

“It means a lot, it is an immense source of pride for us, because until recently it was unthinkable that a national team like North Macedonia could participate in such an important competition,” he told Goal

“We, on the other hand, have always believed in it. This generation made history. We have had other strong players in the past, but only we have managed to accomplish this feat. Nobody will ever be able to take this away from us.”

He added: “Our ambitions are great, we hope to do well and win a few games. The goal is to pass at least the group stage: we know it will not be easy, but we are also aware of our strength so we will try to do this too.”

Who will North Macedonia play?

Igor Angelovski’s side have been drawn in Group C along with Austria, Netherlands and Ukraine.

They will begin their campaign against Austria in Bucharest on Sunday, followed by a clash with Ukraine four days later. A meeting with Frank de Boer’s Netherlands will round off the group stage in Amsterdam on June 21. 

“They are three very strong teams, obviously they are favorites over us,” Pandev said. “We know we are starting a little behind them, but we also know what we can give and what our qualities are. 

“We have already played against Austria in the qualifiers and we do not have positive experiences as they have beaten us twice, but now we have the opportunity to take our revenge. 

“Generally speaking, on paper, Holland remains the favourite for the group and the team to beat, but we do not set ourselves limits.”

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