Macedonians train in Skopje, March 26, 2022, to prepare for the World Cup final against Portugal Robert Atanasovsky
Thanks to the strength of his brilliance against Italy, North Macedonia is preparing to face its “toughest” match against Portugal, Christian Ronaldo, on Tuesday, to fulfill the “dream” of an entire country, which is to play the first World Cup finals in Qatar.
The team from the small Balkan country comes to the final match full of confidence after its victory in Palermo over “Nacional” (1-0), deprived of the World Cup for the second time in a row.
“Honestly, this could be one of the toughest and most exciting matches for all of us,” attacking midfielder Elif Elmas said on Sunday. “We will have 90 minutes to fulfill our childhood dream, not just our dream, but the dream of the whole country.”
“Quite simply, we have to realize that we cannot miss this opportunity,” he added.
North Macedonia is aiming for a fourth successive international win away from home, but will have to face Ronaldo, 37, who is unlikely to get another chance at the World Cup.
“We don’t want to hurt Ronaldo’s career, but we think we can beat Portugal,” commented winger Ezjan Alewski.
Portugal and Macedonia have faced each other only once in the past, in a 2012 friendly match that ended in a goalless draw.
Despite the difficulties ahead, the capital Skopje is buzzing with the hopes of the residents who were encouraged by the goal scored by Aleksandr Trajkovsky last week against Italy.
The country of less than two million people played its first international match in 1993, two years after declaring its independence from the former Yugoslavia.
Despite their relative inexperience, the team achieved other notable results on the international stage, including their impressive victory over Germany last year in Duisburg in the European Championship qualifiers.