A first league title in 77 years has brought joy to the Skopje suburb of Gjorce Petrov, with FK Makedonija GP Skopje now hoping their impressive defence will prove just as watertight in Europe next season.
The club led by 38-year-old former FYR Macedonia Under-19 coach Ilco Gjorgjioski established an unassailable lead at the top of the table with a 1-0 win at local rivals FK Rabotnicki at the weekend. It may have been a miserable season for the established powers in Macedonian football, but few would begrudge Makedonija their success.
Beaten just twice all term, they boast the best defence in the Prva Liga with only 12 goals against. "This is a great success for the club, the biggest in our history," said Gjorgjioski. "Most of the credit goes to the players but they have had tremendous support from our president, Blagoja Nikolovski, and all the staff at the club."
Makedonija's only previous trophy was the 2005/06 Macedonian Cup, but the title had been a long-term target for president Nikolovski. "Our dream of being champions has finally come true," he said. "Four years ago, when we were promoted to the Prva Liga, our main goal for the future was to win the Macedonian title."
There could be more celebrations, with Makedonija taking on Rabotnicki in the cup final on 24 May, though the team founded in 1932 as HASK Skopje – and later known as FK Lokomotiva, FK Rudar, FK Industrijalec and FK Jugokokta – are already looking further ahead to the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round.
"We have a good side but of course we will bring in some new names," said Gjorgjioski. "We must increase the competition in the squad and we need new players because we want to get as far as we can in the UEFA Champions League. We also need strengthening because we want to defend the title."
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