FK Metalurg Skopje defender Gjoko Cvetanovski is not giving up hope of landing the championship in FYR Macedonia despite the capital club winning just one of their opening eight fixtures.
Metalurg were among the pre-season title favourites but currently languish in seventh place with only nine points. Their victory over FK Pobeda on 4 October was the club's first of the campaign, and prompted thoughts of a resurgence. "Finally we won. It was a tough match but it broke the jinx," Cvetanovski said. "I hope that after the [international] break we will put together a winning run and climb the table. It's a long season and there is enough time, and matches, to reach the leaders."
If Metalurg are to mount a challenge, they will most likely have to overcome early pacesetters FK Rabotnicki, who have navigated their first eight games without defeat. They sit top of the Prva Liga, one point clear of FK Renova, with FK Turnovo and titleholders FK Makedonija GP Skopje also well positioned in third and fourth respectively.
Two more points
However, five wins and three draws is still an inadequate return in the eyes of Rabotnicki coach Zoran Stratev. "Looking at it from a distance, the results are good," said Stratev. "But when you analyse the matches, I think we should have had two more points. However, we are playing well, we lead the division and we will continue picking up points and, hopefully, end the season in top spot. It's too early to say we are favourites, though, because the season is long and we are at the beginning."
While Stratev contemplates dropped points, the likes of FK Milano and former champions FK Vardar must contend with global financial difficulties. Both sides have been forced to field youth-team players in order to keep their heads above water and have consequently struggled. While Vardar are eighth in the 12-team table, it is Milano, bottom and still point-less, who represent the starkest example of a club on its uppers.
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