North Macedonia lost all three of their games, but team reporter Igor Panevski knows that just being at UEFA EURO 2020 was a huge victory.
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They may have lost all three of their games at UEFA EURO 2020, but this was still the biggest success in the history of the North Macedonia national team. Having qualified via the play-offs, they made their debut at a major international tournament, with captain Goran Pandev bowing out at the age of 37 after their final Group C fixture. He leaves having scored his side's first EURO goal, in their opener against Austria.
What were the positives?
Being at EURO 2020 was a totally new experience for all the North Macedonia players, but there were plenty of encouraging signs, especially for the new generation of players who will be aiming to remould the team for a post-Pandev future. They did not earn any victories, but they never looked out of place.
As it was for the players, this tournament was a first for me too. I have never had the chance to join my team at a major tournament like this; I can only hope that I will get to do it again.
What the future holds
Like most national teams, North Macedonia are a blend of youth and experience. Several senior players are likely to follow Pandev in stepping back from international football in the months ahead, but the kernel of this squad could be representing our country for the next decade. Coming to a EURO broadens the horizons for all those younger players; they made it here once, so now the challenge is to keep thinking big and achieving high.
Predictions for the rest of EURO 2020
Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium have all ended their group stage with maximum points, but there are so many great teams involved at this EURO that it still seems impossibly hard to predict what will happen next. Who's going to win? I'll tell you on 12 July.Download the EURO app