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Preview: Belarus vs. Macedonia

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Belarus vs. MacedoniaBelarus vs. MacedoniaThe last game of these dismal qualifications will finally come to an end on Monday when Macedonia goes on the road to face Belarus.

One famous quote reads "tough times don't last, tough people do." Well, it's about damn time we find out who those tough people are. They have to exist, right?

The current situation stinks. It requires someone stepping up, showing leadership, and demanding better. If the current crisis doesn't bother you as a player or coach, something's wrong. You need to look in the mirror and determine your true motives. Enough of feelings being hurt.

Mediocre is mediocre. Macedonia has never finished above 4th place in a qualifying tournament since gaining independence. That now includes eleven tries which has seen the team finish in 4th, 5th or 6th place. So, the mediocrity is nothing new, it has existed for over a decade.

This is not a one man's problem. Coaches, players and the federation deserve equal blame. The national team should hold a special place for everyone, not be used as a pawn to further someone's agenda.

There ought to be greater pride in putting on the Macedonian jersey. Once a player gets some stability with his club team, he shouldn't all of a sudden take it easy while representing Macedonia. Show some respect, gratitude. Every player that makes a respectable transfer has the national team to thank in some way. Look, the Macedonian league is not scouted. The only way some of these players get noticed is through the national team, whether the senior squad or the youth sides.

Don't let your head get too big. Good things don't last forever. Appreciate what you have and don't take representing the national team for granted. It should be a privilege, not a right.

Returning to the Belarus game, the following 20 players are available for Macedonia:

Goalkeepers (2): David Mitov Nilsson, Stole Dimitrievski.

Defenders (7): Stefan Ristovski, Vladica Brdarovski, Vanche Shikov, Kire Ristevski, Daniel Mojsov, Leonard Zuta, Mite Cikarski.

Midfielders (8): Milovan Petrovic, Armend Alimi, Ostoja Stjepanovic, Stefan Ashkovski, Aleksandar Trajkovski, Agim Ibraimi, Ivan Trichkovski, Besart Abdurahimi.

Forwards (3): Mirko Ivanovski, Ilija Nestorovski, Bazhe Ilijoski.

It's time for manager Ljubinko Drulovic and players Aleksandar Trajkovski and Stefan Ristovski to bury the hatchet. Enough of this unnecessary drama. If you get benched, then use that as motivation to give better effort. Don't respond to getting benched by showing even worse effort. That reflects poorly on you, your mindset and your character. It's the behavior of losers, not winners.

Ferhan Hasani, who left the Ukraine game early due to an injury, will not make the trip to Belarus. He avoided a serious injury, since the initial fear was a torn ACL, but he will be sidelined for about three weeks.

Drulovic has proven to be very unpredictable when it comes to the starting lineups, so we won't even guess this time. Who knows? It will depend on how the benched players respond and whether Drulovic relents to the public pressure.

Belarus won the first meeting over Macedonia back in March of 2015. They came out on top 2:1, signaling the end of Boshko Gjurovski's tenure. He was dismissed as manager after that game. If Macedonia loses again on Monday, then Drulovic may be awaiting the same fate. Drulovic has a contract until the end of the 2018 World Cup qualifications, but the FFM management will sit down to discuss his future after the Belarus match.

The qualifier between Belarus and Macedonia will start on Monday at 20:45 CET. Belarus is coming off a 1:0 victory over Slovakia, so they should be high on confidence. Goalkeeper David Mitov Nilsson is expected to make his debut for Macedonia. This game is an opportunity to end these awful qualifications on a positive note and begin the process of turning the corner.


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