FK Rabotnicki have sold one star player and brought back another with coach Dragoljub Bekvalac determined to complete a Macedonian double in the spring.
In and out
The domestic transfer window in F.Y.R. Macedonia closed on 15 February, with the Prva Liga campaign resuming on 2 March, and for Rabotnicki – ten points clear at the top of the table – it was a time of major comings and goings as young striker Ivan Trickovski left for FK Crvena Zvezda in a record deal of around €800,000. His replacement is Boban Jancevski, the 29-year-old whose 19 goals in 15 league games for FK Baskimi earned him a ill-fated switch to Belgium's KSC Lokeren OV.
Rabotnicki have been doing their winter training in Antalya, Turkey, with players insisting that Bekvalac has not been going easy on them despite their strong league position. "I'm satisfied with how we work here," said defender Miroslav Vajs. "It is tough but we know what our goal is. We have been playing friendlies although results have not been a high priority because the long second part of the season is ahead. Our main goal is to win the title and the cup."
Like Skopje rivals Rabotnicki, third-placed FK Vardar went abroad for mid-season training opting for Croatia. The club have also made changes. Midfielder Filip Despotovski has signed a three-year contract at Ukrainian side FC Vorskla Poltava while coach Zoran Stratev hopes the arrival of three Brazilians – Roberto Carlos, Fabio and Pimente Sousa – can help them close the 16-point gap between them and the runaway league leaders.
"After the preparations in Makarska, I have 14 or 15 players who are candidates for the starting eleven," said Stratev. "I hope that before the start of second part of the season I will have an even clearer picture." The coach is particularly excited about midfielder Roberto Carlos, saying: "The Brazilian is a brilliant midfielder. He will be the best creative player in our team. You will see that in our next home matches. I am very happy with him."
Still holding their own in second, albeit ten points adrift of Rabotnicki, modest FK Milano stayed in Kumanovo for their winter training camp, but they remain buoyant. "Our ambition is clearly to play in Europe next season," said coach Gjore Jovanovski. Elswehere, FK Makedonija GP Skopje defender Milan Dimovski has earned a move to the Russian Premier-Liga with promoted FC Terek Grozny. He has signed a three-year contract.
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