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Season review: FYR Macedonia

Published: Tuesday 16 June 2009, 16.25CET
FK Makedonija GP Skopje claimed their first Macedonian title and were within a penalty shoot-out of making it a double, with the cup going to FK Rabotnicki as consolation for failing to retain their championship crown.
by Igor Panevski
from Skopje
Season review: FYR Macedonia
Rabotnicki denied Makedonija a domestic double in FYR Macedonia ©Sportsfile
Published: Tuesday 16 June 2009, 16.25CET

Season review: FYR Macedonia

FK Makedonija GP Skopje claimed their first Macedonian title and were within a penalty shoot-out of making it a double, with the cup going to FK Rabotnicki as consolation for failing to retain their championship crown.

FK Makedonija GP Skopje claimed the first Macedonian title in their history, and were within a penalty shoot-out of making it a double; the  cup going instead to FK Rabotnicki as consolation for failing to retain their championship crown. In a disappointing season for the two clubs who usually dominate Macedonian football, Rabotnicki eventually finished fourth, one place above traditional rivals FK Vardar, who also  went into meltdown after president Trifun Kostovski quit and then returned in mid-season. With FK Baskimi having withdrawn earlier on, FK Napredok were relegated as the bottom side in the eleven-team league, with FK Teteks and FK Sloga promoted to replace them. FK Pelister and FK Metalurg Skopje face relegation play-offs.

Champions: FK Makedonija GP Skopje
There was joy in the Skopje suburb of Gjorce Petrov as Makedonija claimed the first title in their 77-year history, with Ilco Gjorgjioski's side demonstrating the consistency and determination lacked by deposed champions Rabotnicki and crisis-laden Vardar. They conceded just 15 goals all season, but the coach is not resting on his laurels, saying: "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."

Cup final: FK Rabotnicki 1-1 FK Makedonija GP Skopje (aet, Rabotnicki win 7-6 on penalties)
New leadership, new players and coaching changes spelled a miserable season for 2007/08 league champions Rabotnicki, but despite a fourth-placed league finish, they salvaged a European slot, denying Makedonija a domestic double. Nikolce Kleckarovski's goal put Makedonija ahead but Sasko Pandev's shot-cum-cross levelled the tie in added time, and he then scored the winner in the shoot-out. "We are happy to win the cup and hope next season will be much better than this one," said Rabotnicki's Serbian captain Radenko Bojović. "This trophy will be an inspiration for us to go for the double."

European places:
Makedonija– UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
Rabotnicki – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FK Milano – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
FK Renova – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

Player of the Year: Ivica Gligorovski (FK Milano)
Having finished second as a promoted side last season, Kumanovo-based Milano proved they were no flash in the pan with another runners-up slot, with much credit for that going to striker Gligorovski, who topped the national scorers table with 15 league goals, including hat-tricks against former sides Vardar and FK Sileks. Having hit a barren patch after a move to Cypriot side Ethnikos Achnas FC in 2004, the 28-year-old's two seasons at Milano have seen him rediscover his ruthless touch.

One to watch: Dino Najdoski (FK Vardar)
The 16-year-old son of former Vardar and Crvena Zvezda player Ilija Najdoski, Dino Najdoski is proving that talent runs in his family. Having made his debut last season for Rabotnicki, he impressed in a poor season for Vardar has been mooted as a Crvena Zvezda transfer target. He said: "I don't know where I will be in five or six years, but my first wish is to play in the best league in the world – in the English Premier League with Arsenal."

Surprise package: FK Renova
Last season's wild card side Milano had another good campaign, finishing second again, but it was Renova who caught the imagination, taking third place. The 'Gipsari' (Gypsum Boys) hail from the village of Dzepciste but – due to stadium requirements - play their home games in nearby Tetovo. Having made their European debut in this season's UEFA Intertoto Cup, they will look to shine again in the UEFA Europa League qualifiers in the summer.

Leading scorer: Ivica Gligorovski, FK Milano (15)

Number: 11
The number of teams that finished the season, as opposed to the 12 who started. FK Baskimi withdrew and were later dissolved due to financial problems.

Quote
"This is my biggest achievement; in 19 years as a professional I had never won a championship title. This is the pinnacle of my career. I have never played in the UEFA Champions League. This is great for FK Makedonija and all my team-mates; I'm very happy."
Makedonija captain Blagoja Milevski

Last updated: 06/07/10 14.41CET

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http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/association=mkd/news/newsid=837004.html#season+review+fyr+macedonia

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