Shumi impresses national coach

MACEDONIAN coach Srecko Katanec was so impressed when he watched midfielder Veliche Shumulikoski playing in the holding role for Ipswich Town he adopted the position for the national team.

Derek Davis

MACEDONIAN coach Sre?ko Katanec was so impressed when he watched midfielder Veliche Shumulikoski playing in the holding role for Ipswich Town he adopted the position for the national team.

Nicknamed 'The Steven Gerrard of the Balkans' Shumi won more than 50 caps for Macedonia playing as an attacking central midfielder, but is relishing the new role for club and country.

Shumi said: “I'm starting more games, I enjoy the position and it is working well although I feel I can still do a little better.


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“The lads behind me make it easier by talking all the time and telling me where to cover, and the defence has been very solid for a while now.

“I played there when I was a lot younger, but the manager felt I could do good work there. My national coach came to Ipswich to watch me play and in our next international I played in that same position against Montenegro.

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Although they beat Scotland they lost against Holland and Iceland, in their World Cup group that also includes Norway.

“It is a difficult group but we are trying to take the second place.”

After playing in temperatures of minus 15 in Russia the British winter is almost tropical by comparison for the 27-year-old, but he would still welcome a winter hiatus.

Shumi said: “In some games it was minus 15 but we didn't mind, we just kept running to keep warm.”

The habit has clearly paid off and Shumi covered 12km (more than seven miles) in the 3-1 win over Bristol City but admits the schedule can take its toll.

He said: “We should have a winter break. There are so many games over here that we should get a mid-season rest.

“I would favour from December 20 until January 6. Just two weeks over the Christmas and New Year period.

“I know here a lot of people like to watch games over that period and like to see it on television.

“But we play a lot of games and it is even busier over that period. But that is when I would like the break to be.”

This year is a comparative easy schedule with Town at home on Boxing Day and no New Year's Day fixture, but they will still play two games in three days.

Shumi added: “It is difficult, but if you win the games soon go and everyone is happy. But if you lose you dwell on the games and the time goes slowly.”

It will go slower for the midfielder, whose family will be in Skopje while he is playing over the festive season, but he admits top being in good spirits following the victory over the Robins.

He said: “It was a good win on Wednesday and everyone is happy and we are all together.”

Shumulikoski will be back in international action for Macedonia against Holland in March in their World Cup group qualifying match.

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