FYR Macedonia's new national stadium will be officially opened tonight with European champions Spain the visitors.
The Filip II Stadium has been the talk of football in FYR Macedonia, with the country's government investing €13m to build the venue in Skopje. The national team's head coach Mirsad Jonuz summed up the excitement by saying his side will take "great pleasure playing in it" before adding: "This stadium gives us great conditions, for the players and the fans.
"It means a lot to the development of Macedonian football. Our national team will play their matches here and I hope our fans get to enjoy victories against great opponents." Tonight's visitors could be put into that category as UEFA EURO 2008™ winners Spain arrive for the ground's inaugural fixture. Aside from the national team, domestic clubs FK Vardar and FK Rabotnicki will play their home games at Filip II, which is named after an ancient king. The venue is a redevelopment of the former national arena – the Gradski Stadion – and locals will be hoping the name change and the new facilities will mark a fresh chapter in the football aspirations of FYR Macedonia.
For the Spain game, the ground will hold 25,000 – all seated – but after building work on the stands behind the goals is completed, the capacity will rise to over 35,000. The north stand opened earlier this month and in addition to the 10,017 people it can seat, there are also places for 434 VIPs, 248 journalists and commentary positions. The stadium's opening marks the beginning of a new era for both Skopje and FYR Macedonia with the country's director of public enterprise, Vladimir Bahcovanski, saying: "This stadium will be a legacy for all future generations. It will offer great motivation for players not only at club level, but also in the national team to give their maximum and achieve better results."
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