Macedonia coach Katanec steps down

SKOPJE - Macedonia coach Srecko Katanec resigned on Monday because of a dispute he had with striker Goran Pandev before last week's World Cup qualifier against Netherlands. "I resigned not because we lost the match 4-0, but due to the fact that a minor conflict I had with Pandev in the build-up to the game created a bad atmosphere in the team," he told the Macedonian Football Federation website. "Some of the players launched their own inquest into how the incident was leaked to the media and I cannot accept that kind of behaviour, it's made it impossible for me to work with the team," the 45-year-old coach added. "Macedonia still have a chance of finishing second in Group Nine and clinching a play-off berth but they now need a coach who will restore a good atmosphere." Katanec did not say what the dispute had been about. Netherlands top the group with a maximum 15 points from five matches, eight more than Scotland and 11 ahead of Iceland. Macedonia have three points from four games and Norway have two points from three matches. Europe's nine group winners will qualify automatically for next year's finals in South Africa while the eight best second-placed teams will enter play-offs for another four berths.