SKOPJE - Macedonia striker Goran Pandev
will return to play for his country in a Euro 2012 qualifier
away to Ireland later this month after missing their last two
Group B matches, coach Mirsad Jonuz said on Wednesday.
Pandev, who scored a superb winner for Inter Milan to send
the Champions League holders into the last eight on away goals
against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, was named by Jonuz in
Macedonia's 20-man squad for the March 26 game at Croke Park.
The 27-year old striker threatened to quit international
football last October, when he told local media he was fed up
with fans jeering him and his team mates after Macedonia's 2-2
home draw with Armenia.
Pandev has since missed the 2-0 win away to Andorra and a
1-0 home defeat by group leaders Russia but Jonuz said
Macedonia's prolific hitman has had a change of heart.
"I think his future appearances for Macedonia were never
really in doubt because it was an emotional reaction which I
fully understand," Jonuz told Reuters.
"All he really wanted was support for himself and the team
and I fully back him in that request because I am behind the
players, who deserve more credit and patience from the fans.
"There is no doubt Pandev will play for Macedonia for a long
time to come, he is the pack leader and a fantastic player. He
missed the last two games because he wasn't fully fit and we
didn't want to take any chances."
Macedonia, who have never qualified for a major tournament
since they gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in
1991, are fifth in the group with four points from as many
games, five less than pacesetters Russia.
Ireland, Armenia and Slovakia are tied on seven points from
four games and Jonuz acknowledged the Macedonians needed a win
in Dublin to stay in the hunt for a berth at next year's finals
in Poland and Ukraine.
"This is a very balanced group with lots of surprising
results behind us and probably more on the cards, so it is
absolutely vital for us to get a result against the Irish in
Dublin," he said.
"We are a good team lacking a little more confidence and I
will tell the players to go out there purposefully, to take the
game to Ireland and play attacking football."
Tony Pulis is set to leave Premier League side Stoke City
Manchester City and the New York Yankees have formed a new Major League Soccer team
Real Madrid president under scrutiny after latest coaching project ends in disarray
Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho will part company at the end of the current season
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010