15 Aug. 2019
North Macedonia claimed 13th spot in their debut IHF Men’s Youth World Championship ending with a three-goal victory over Argentina this afternoon.
They started and ended their home championship against the South Americans, who had beat them by three in the opening match over a week ago. While Mihajlo Mladenovic opened the scoring in that game last Tuesday, today it was Nenad Kosteski, who ensured that the home side would never be behind in the game.
PLACEMENT MATCH 13/14
Argentina vs North Macedonia 26:29 (8:15)
Boris Trajkovski Arena, Skopje
Even though the hosts lost the second half 18:14, they had restricted their opponents to just eight first-half strikes and scored 15 times themselves.
Kristijan Simonoski with nine strikes out of nine attempts rightfully won the best player of the match award and it was his long distance strike which ended the Macedonian action of this tournament which has seen highs and lows, but never anything less than 100% given by the home side, who were still reeling from that tough eighth-final loss against Portugal last night in a match where they led for long periods and with five minutes left.
“We missed a great chance against Portugal, it hurts, it hurts a lot,” said Macedonia’s Marko Bozhinovski to IHF.info after the match today. “We were leading against them, and had prepared for them, we had a great crowd, everything was great, but going into our last match we knew there was nothing we could do, it’s over, it happened, we are still hurt, yes, but there’s nothing we can do.
“We forgot about the loss and played this game,” he said. “Being part of this championship at home, when you step on the court it’s some unbelievable feeling; the home crowd, your friends, your family, your friends’ families - you can’t describe it and when you score a goal it’s phenomenal.
“My close friends and family have been here all the time and they were really excited to watch a tournament like this and to watch me of course.”
While North Macedonia’s players and fans can be proud of their team, one legacy from the tournament is already confirmed – the 15-year-old Nigerian right back Faruk Yusuf signed for RK Butel Skopje this morning and will be teammates Bozhinovski.
“He’s a very good player and just 15 years old,” he said. “He’s very talented and can be a great right back. I would like to welcome him in my club, my country and my culture.”
Best player of the match: Kristijan Simonoski (MKD)
Photo: WCH 2019 / Filip Viranovski