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Kantarovski approached to play for Macedonia?

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Ben Kantarovski (L); photo: smh.com.auBen Kantarovski (L); photo: smh.com.auAustralian website "Newcastle Herald" reported today that Ben Kantarovski has been approached by manager Boshko Gjurovski about playing for the Macedonian national team.

In an article that was written after today's game between Melbourne Heart and Newcastle Jets, author James Gardiner of the "Newcastle Herald" wrote a tidbit that Kantarovski has been approached by Gjurovski to represent Macedonia earlier in the week.

Here is the full paragraph regarding that tidbit, "Zenon Caravella was also promoted at the expense of James Brown and joined Ruben Zadkovich and Ben Kantarovski, who was this week reportedly approached by Macedonia coach Bosko Djurovski about playing for his country of heritage, in the middle of the park."

Gjurovski has actually already coached against Kantarovski, so he should have some knowledge of Ben's abilities.  Back in 2009, Nagoya and Newcastle Jets were in the same group of the AFC Champions League.  As a reminder, Boshko Gjurovski was an assistant at Nagoya from 2008 until the end of 2013 before he took over as Macedonian manager on 1 January of 2014.  Nagoya and Newcastle Jets played in two meetings and Kantarovski played the full 90 minutes in each game.  The two games ended 1:1 and then 1:0 in favor of Nagoya, but both Nagoya and Newcastle finished in the top two to advance from that group.  So, Kantarovski must have left a good enough impression for Gjurovski to reach out to him.

Ben plays in defensive midfield which is a problem area for Macedonia, so that is definitely a position up for grabs.  Macedonia plays a friendly against Latvia on 5 March, and those types of encounters are a good way to test new players.  We shall see if Gjurovski and Kantarovski are able to reach common ground about Ben representing the Macedonian national team.

It is a smart idea for Gjurovski and the Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM) to recruit players from the diaspora in order to improve the talent level and depth.  Now, they still need to possess the necessary talent, but friendlies are the perfect time to test new players   Macedonia should look at case studies like Croatia and Bosnia.  Croatia has a number of players within its ranks who were born in a different country but are of Croatian origin.  They were smart enough to act quickly in order to secure those players.  Then, when it comes to Bosnia, three of their key players in Asmir Begović, Miralem Pjanić and Vedad Ibišević developed their games in countries from abroad after each left Bosnia at a young age.  Their latest acquisition was Izet Hajrović who scored the decisive goal against Slovakia in the WC qualifiers.  However, Bosnia, too, acted quickly to convince those players to play for them.  Macedonia should be more aggressive in adopting the same strategy as well.  So far, Daniel Georgievski is the lone Australian born player who is currently playing for Macedonia.

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