S.S. Lazio's Goran Pandev insists that F.Y.R. Macedonia have been presented with a "good chance" of reaching the 2010 FIFA World Cup following the qualification draw in South Africa.
Pandev and his Macedonia team-mates will take on the Netherlands, Iceland, Norway and Scotland in Group 9 with renewed confidence following a best-ever qualification campaign. Under the guidance of Srečko Katenec, Macedonia earned a record 14 points in UEFA EURO 2008™ Group E, defeating group-winners Croatia 2-0 in their penultimate match.
"We have very tough group," said Pandev. "But it could be worse and I think the Netherlands are the favourites for first place and we, with Scotland and Norway, will try to get second spot. Nevertheless, it's a good chance for this generation."
The 24-year-old's cautious optimism is also echoed by captain Goce Sedloski. "We would take second place and I hope that we reach the play-offs," said Sedloski, who won his 82nd cap against Israel on 21 November. "I'm looking forward to playing Scotland, who are our opponents along with Norway for second place. I think that we are on a similar level to these teams and that will make for some great matches."
However whether Macedonia will be led by Katenec remains to be seen, as the 44-year-old's contract expired after the UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifiers. Negotiations are being held this week, with news expected on the former Slovenia coach's future any day soon.
Meanwhile FK Rabotnicki remain the only side undefeated after 15 Prva Liga matches, and lead promoted outfit FK Milano by seven points. The pace-setters recently celebrated their 70th anniversary with a 0-0 friendly draw with Serbian side FK Vojvodina.
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