“In November’s Fifa rankings, Macedonia FYR fell to 155th place, the worst position in the country’s history. Their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup have all but disappeared, the national team reflecting the desperate state of Macedonian football. Milko Djurovski is a former Yugoslavia international and the brother of the former Macedonia FYR head coach Boško. …” The Blizzard
“It’s difficult to imagine a starker contrast between performance and outcome than England’s 1-0 victory over Slovenia at Wembley on Thursday night. The narrow win, sealed by Harry Kane’s last-gasp goal, didn’t really mask an uninspiring performance from manager Gareth Southgate’s side. But ultimately it means England have qualified for next summer’s World Cup. Preparation starts now: The FA immediately announced home friendlies against Germany and Brazil next month, knowing those dates wouldn’t be needed for playoff matches, while Sunday’s trip to Lithuania effectively has become another friendly, a chance for experimentation. And experimentation is crucial if England have any chance of reaching the latter stages in Russia next year. …” ESPN
“The letter was out of the blue and did not mince its words. From the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, there was something sinister about the instructions, albeit offset by the reassuringly bureaucratic tone. …” The Set Pieces
Romelu Lukaku scores Manchsester United’s winner past the despairing dive of Fraser Forster.
“For more than half an hour, José Mourinho sat waiting on the Manchester United team coach outside St Mary’s doubtless basking in the comfort of a job well done after extending his side’s unbeaten run to eight matches. They displayed a callous efficiency and a charming stubbornness in an unforgiving and occasionally ugly performance that earned United victory and a fifth clean sheet in six Premier League matches. Romelu Lukaku, though, was still stationed inside in doping control, and, such is the ruthlessness of this United team at present, they left for Southampton airport without him. …” Guardian
“Rough translation of the Serbian colloquial proverb offers a descriptive insight into efforts that have seen the football regulatory bodies of the former Yugoslav countries come together to form a unified regional Balkan League. Such a league would be built around a similar model, which had been successfully adopted in basketball and is expected to follow in other sports such as boxing.” futbolgrad (Video)
Could A Balkan Football League Ever Work?
“The idea of a united Balkan league is not a new one. At a conference in July 2007 delegates from Slovenia, Romania, Russia and Serbia discussed the practicalities of a Central and Eastern European league and the lower league structure by which it would be underpinned by. The now disgraced Michel Platini has also been open to the idea, as he feels that such a structure could reduce the gap between the Western European elite and their eastern counterparts…” In Bed With Maradona
“The Balkans Cup was an international football competition for clubs from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia. It was introduced in 1961 and was very popular in the 1960s (the 1967 final attracted 42,000 spectators), being the second most important international club competition for clubs from the region (after the European Champions’ Cup in which the champions could play; the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup originally attracted few teams from the region as many did not organise domestic cups regularly and only Yugoslavia had significant representation in the Fairs Cup). …” Wikipedia
“What’s happening with the next World Cup? The 2018 World Cup will be in Russia, running from 14 June to 15 July, hosting 32 football teams—and their fans –from around the world. It will be held in twelve stadiums and eleven cities across the European part of Russia. The host cities are a mix of large and small, cities that are better known to foreigners and cities that are almost unknown outside Russia.” futbolgrad
“Shakhtar Donetsk’s defensive midfielder Frederico Rodrigues Santos, better known as Fred, has been very much the unsung hero of a stellar side this season. We have featured a vast array of Shakhtar Donetsk players of late, but with Paulo Fonseca leading his side to a 13-point lead over rivals Dynamo Kyiv, and with winning six out of six games in the Europa League, it is not difficult to praise the work done at Shakhtar Donetsk this season.” futbolgrad