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King Kiril takes Macedonian hot seat

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Macedonian handball legend Kiril Lazarov has been announced as player-coach for the North Macedonia men’s national team, having agreed on a contract until 2026.

Lazarov has been a force to be reckoned with for club and country for the past two decades, having won the EHF Champions League title twice as well as dozens of domestic trophies with the likes of RK Zagreb, Veszprém, Ciudad Real and Barcelona. He has also set all-time scoring records in the EHF Champions League, EHF EURO and World Championship.

The 40-year-old is in the final year of his current contract with EHF Champions League participants HBC Nantes.

Should he continue playing next season, we may see a rare role in international handball of a player coach.

“I still have not made my final decision about playing for another year, but I should have a definite answer by the end of this month on whether I will continue or retire.

“I honestly hope to continue playing next season and I will announce my decision soon,” said Lazarov in a press release from the Macedonian Handball Federation.

Big changes on the way

Regardless of whether the right back continues to play next season, his focus will primarily be on ushering in the next generation of Macedonian players and making changes at all levels within the national team pathway.

'We were missing a concrete plan, a system of play that goes throughout the youth categories that will help the young players to easier integrate among the seniors.

“We have not got much time until the matches against Denmark and there is no space for a lot of changes until then,” said Lazarov in reference to the double-header against Denmark in the EHF EURO 2022 qualifiers in March.

The Macedonian national team has struggled to make a big splash in recent years since a ninth-place finish at the 2015 World Championship.

Lazarov appears keen to move with the times and have the team play an attractive brand of handball under his watch.

“I promise, you will see a different national team next year, fast and modern handball, playing both ways.”

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