November 14, 2009 - Strumica
Macedonia 3 Canada 0
Attendance: 5,000 (soldout)
Distance travelled: 3,500km
This game was originally scheduled to be played at the national stadium in Skopje, but the Macedonian FA decided to switch it over to the town of Strumica (50,000). National team games are rarely played outside of Skopje, so this was a big deal for the people of Strumica. It is located in southern Macedonian, about 30km north of Greece and 20km to the west of Bulgaria.
As a Canadian living in the Czech Republic, I made the trip to Macedonia. It was a early morning on Friday, as I had to leave at 5am to get to the Prague airport. From there, I flew to Skopje, and then took a dodgy taxi to the city centre. For anyone who has flown into the Skopje airport, you will know that the taxi cabs are unregulated. So, one must haggle. The first offer was 30 euros, which was ridiculous. I finally found someone for around 18 euros. Once I got to the Skopje bus station, I waited around for the bus to Strumica, which is about 3 hours away (175km).
There were only 2 Canadian supporters at the game, including me. Watching Canada away from home, is certainly not like watching England, Scotland etc where thousands show up. Many of the Macedonians seemed to be surprised that any Canadian supporters were at the game. We had a lot of requests for pictures.
The stadium is about a 10 minute walk north of the city centre. From the outside it looks quite run down, but the stands have recently been renovated. The pitch was in awful shape, thanks to constant rain over the week.
Canada was dominated for most of the first half, even though it ended 0-0. The play was slightly more even in the second half, despite Macedonia scoring three goals. Incredibly, the game had four penalty kicks. Macedonia scored on their two, but Canada missed both of theirs. The visitors couldn't match the size and physical play of the hosts.