An emotional Igor Angelovski suggested a sensational win over Germany was comparable to European Championship success for his North Macedonia side.
In the biggest shock of the World Cup qualifying campaign so far, North Macedonia claimed a remarkable 2-1 victory in Duisberg on Wednesday.
North Macedonia are set to make their major tournament debut as an independent nation at Euro 2020 and have now also improbably boosted their Qatar 2022 hopes, sitting above Germany in Group J, three points behind early leaders Armenia.
Angelovski’s men had just 30.5 per cent of possession against the 2014 World Cup winners but were clinical when their chances came.
Veteran forward Goran Pandev and midfielder Eljif Elmas scored as North Macedonia registered six goal attempts, of which three were on target.
Germany had 11 efforts but only twice found their aim, as Timo Werner incredibly missed from point-blank range after Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty had pulled the hosts back level.
For triumphant head coach Angelovski, the victory was particularly precious as he reflected on a difficult time in his personal life.
“What can I tell you? I can’t, out of emotion, out of happiness,” he said. “We made the North Macedonians proud and happy. This is like winning the European Championship.
— European Qualifiers (@EURO2020) March 31, 2021
“I came here with these guys because they promised to celebrate. My wife was in the hospital, she had COVID-19 symptoms, luckily she’s better now.
“The kids were giving me support. Thank you all. What more can I say? Just to cry.”
Unsurprisingly, 37-year-old record goalscorer Pandev – once a Champions League winner with Inter – was picked out for special praise.
He scored with his only shot from his sole touch inside the Germany box but crucially provided an outlet, his average position the furthest forward of any North Macedonia player.
“Pandev is an amazing man, the leader of this team,” Angelovski said. “They fought like lions to write the history of their state; I’m proud of these guys.”
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