The Faroe Islands succumbed to just a second defeat in eight matches when they were defeated 1-0 by North Macedonia in Skopje on Monday in an exhibition match.
The friendly nature of this match allowed head coach Håkan Ericson to make seven changes from last Friday’s draw in Moldova, giving some of the fringe players a chance to shine, as Bárður á Reynatrøð, Hanus Sørensen, Heini Vatnsdal, Rógvi Baldvinsson, Ári Jónsson, Stefan Radosavljevic, and Pætur Petersen came into a rotated line-up.
Despite the 58 places between the two sides in the world rankings, the game started as a tight affair. Half-way through the first half, the first real talking point transpired when Valon Ethemi rounded debutant keeper Bárður á Reynatrøð and passed the ball into the empty net. Luckily for Landsliðið, it was called offside, and with no VAR at the match, this call stood, despite it clearly looking onside at a second glance.
Minutes later, the Faroes were fortunate not to concede a penalty when it appeared René Shaki Joensen had diverted the ball with his hand in the box (again, the wonders of no VAR)!
In the 36th minute ex-Leeds man Ezgjan Alioski rattled the bar as the home side started to ramp up the pressure. So it came as quite a surprise when this was instantly followed by arguably the best chance of the half, to the Faroes, as Stefan Radosavljevic shot wide from a superb Ári Jónsson cross, a glorious chance that should have been converted.
The second half started brightly for the away team, with Sølvi Vatnhamar blasting over when placed through on goal. The proceeding 30 minutes or so was a scrappy affair, with both nations canceling each other out. The Faroes deployed an intelligent high-line, which the home side couldn’t break, shown by the fact that they were caught offside an incredible 10 times. To combat this, North Macedonia threw on star man in Napoli’s Elif Elmas, who made an immediate impact, forcing a great save from Reynatrøð when put through one-on-one. The game looked like it was meandering to a draw until, with just 9 minutes to go, striker Bojan Miovski empathically stroked the ball past the diving keeper to ensure that Faroe would leave Skopje empty-handed, but still with a lot of positives to take away.
Here are my players’ ratings:
12) Bárður á Reynatrøð — 8.5/10
18) Hanus Sørensen — 8.5/10 (MOTM)
4) Heini Vatnsdal — 7.5/10
8) Rógvi Baldvinsson — 7.5/10
3) Viljormur Davidsen (C) — 7.5/10
20) René Shaki Joensen — 6.5/10 )
10) Sølvi Vatnhamar — 7/10
22) Jákup Andreasen — 6.5/10
19) Ári Jónsson — 6.5/10
17) Stefan Radosavljevic — 6.5/10
24) Pætur Petersen — 7.5/10
5) Andrias Edmundsson — 7.5/10 (for Heini Vatnsdal 46th minute)
6) Daniel Johansen — 6.5/10 (for Ári Jónsson 62nd minute)
14) Gilli Rolantsson — 6.5/10 (for Stefan Radosavljevic 62nd minute)
15) Odmar Færø — 6/10 (for Rógvi Baldvinsson 73rd minute)
13) Noah Mneney — 6.5/10 (for Jákup Andreasen 73rd minute)
9) Klæmint Olsen — N/A (for René Shaki Joensen 84th minute)
Coach Håkan Ericson — 7/10. A positive line-up that gave some of the younger players a chance to shine, coupled with an organized formation that almost brought a well-deserved draw.
“I thought we played well and were fighting during all the game,”.debutant Bárður á Reynatrøð stated after the game. “Disappointing to lose the game, but overall a good match.”
“A very equal game, unfortunately we conceded a very unnecessary goal but we have to learn from it and get back going because there are many positives to take from the game,” defender Andrias Edmundsson added.
Next up, the Faroe Islands are back to European qualifiers against Czechia at home on the 17th of June.