Football can provide unpredictable twists as Balzan goalkeeper Kristijan Naumovski discovered last weekend.
On Saturday, the Macedonian goalkeeper faced his former club Birkirkara for the first time since he left the Valley club last summer. The match had taken a disappointed twist for the towering custodian after conceding a soft goal late the first half that left his team with a fight on their hands to secure the three points.
After the break, Ricardo Correa restored equilibrium but Birkirkara looked set to take the win when Miguel Alba beat Naumovski from the spot to put his team 3-2 ahead.
But in stoppage time, the unexpected happened as Naumovski left his goal to charge into the Birkirkara box. The Macedonian latched onto Correa’s delivery to head the ball past Andrew Hogg to earn his team a precious point.
The goal was a huge relief for Naumovski.
“It’s difficult to explain the emotions I felt after scoring against Birkirkara,” Naumovski told the Times of Malta.
“Facing my former team Birkirkara was not easy for me and I was really tense. Things got worse when I committed that mistake when trying to keep out Miguel Alba’s shot and in fact during the half-time interval I was really angry with myself.
“But my team-mates all rallied around me and showed a lot of support. I’m just pleased that I repaid them with that late equaliser, and hopefully it will help me to continue step up my performances.”
The former Dinamo Bucharest goalkeeper decided to leave Birkirkara in the summer after a rather difficult 2018-19 season during which his place as the team’s no.1 was put in jeopardy last January following the arrival of Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
The six-foot-two custodian admitted that despite all the difficulties he had at Birkirkara he was still offered the chance to stay with the Stripes but he opted to seek pastures new.
“People might think that I had a point to prove against Birkirkara, but in reality I didn’t’ as during my stay there I showed that I was one of the best goalkeepers in Malta,” Naumovski, who has ten caps with the North Macedonia national team, said.
“Actually, at the end of last season the Birkirkara president had informed me that he wanted me to stay at the club and he even offered me a two-year contract. But I felt that it was time for me to move on. Hibernians, Gżira United and Balzan approached me with a contract offer and it was not easy for me to decide.
“However, I felt that Balzan wanted me more with both their technical director Vladimir Simovic and club president Anton Tagliaferro trying everything they could to have my signature and I think joining Balzan was the right decision for me.”
Now that he is at Balzan, Naumovski has made it clear that his main objective is to help the club challenge for silverware, even though he admits there is nothing certain given that many teams are pulling beyond their weight.
“Here at Balzan I feel that I have everything in place to attain all I was looking for when I came to Malta almost three years ago,” the 30-year-old said.
“This year the club has assembled a very competitive squad and that is mirrored in our performances. So far, we played against three very tough sides like Sliema Wanderers, Balzan and Birkirkara and we put in some great performances.
“Our goal this season is that to challenge for the title or at least place in the top three.
“It will not be easy as if the first weeks are anything go by there are no easy. We saw last weekend teams newly promoted teams like Sta Lucia and Sirens continuing to impress.
“My goal is to continue to work hard and ensure that I am ready to help Balzan reach the objectives set this season.”