FK Makedonija Skopje's expulsion from the Macedonian league could yet prove to be a lifeline for FK Vardar, with the capital side taking on many of the club's top personnel in the winter.
The autumn campaign had been a miserable one for Vardar, the five-time Prva Liga champions who were also the only side from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to win the Yugoslavian league title, back in 1987/88. However, while their chances of a medal finish look very slender, Makedonija's plight has handed them an unlikely windfall.
With their rivals thrown out of the league after failing to turn up for two fixtures, Vardar took on Makedonija's coach Ilco Gjorgjioski and a number of his players, and while there is considerable work to be done before the they can be at their best, avoiding a bottom-two finish – and a relegation play-off – looks a better bet.
"We have had very little time to train together," admitted the coach. "I believe in team spirit and we must play well. We have not had time to prepare but we have great professionals and I believe that very soon we will play as me and our fans expect. We have great support and we will reward them with good matches and good results."
At the top end of the table, FK Renova are five points clear of Vardar's arch-rivals FK Rabotnicki as the side from the village of Dzepciste, near Tetovo, bid to take their first domestic title. The Gypsum Boys lost star striker Besart Ibraimi to FC Schalke 04 in the winter, signing former international Goce Toleski to replace him.
Vardar, meanwhile, kicked off the spring campaign with a 2-0 win against FK Milano last Saturday, with both goals scored by former Makedonija players, Milan Ilievski and Fahrudin Gjurgjevik. Money remains tight for all clubs in the Prva Liga, but Gjorgjioski said: "I believe in the near future Vardar will be leaders in Macedonian football again."
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