FK Pobeda began their title defence in F.Y.R. Macedonia with a goalless draw against FK Rabotnicki while FK Vardar stated their intent by comfortably beating FK Napredok.
Pobeda, who were eliminated in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round by FC Levadia Tallinn, could not make home advantage tell in their opener against Rabotnicki, who they had finished four points above last season. Nonetheless Levadia will be confident about their campaign, having signed former Macedonian international Jesus Da Silva Gilson, fellow Brazilian-born player Almeida Rodrigo and Serbian Marko Gjorović.
The only notable departure has been forward Dusan Savić, who has joined Serbian players Slaven Stanković from FK Zemun and Dragan Trajković from FK Borac in moving to Vardar. The latter team recovered from their UEFA Cup first qualifying round exit at the hands of Anorthosis Famagusta FC by defeating visitors Napredok 5-1 on 7 August. Jovan Kostovski scored a hat-trick. Following Pobeda and Vardar's failure, the Prva Liga's sole surviving side in Europe are Rabotnicki who face Bosnia-Herzegovina's NK Zrinjski in the UEFA Cup second qualifying round.
Another threat to the big three's championship challenge could come from FK Renova. Despite losing 2006/07 top scorer Boban Jancevski to Belgian club KSC Lokeren OV – and their curtain-raiser 2-1 to big-spending newcomers FK Milano – they have had a busy summer recruiting Rabotnicki old boys Pance Stojanov, Igor Stojanov and Vanco Trajcov, as well as striker Ismail Ismaili from FK Makedonija GP Skopje. "Our ambition is to be near the top of the table and to participate in next season's UEFA competitions," said former Renova coach Vlatko Kostov. The only other team alongside Makedonija, Milano and Vardar to collect three points from the opening round were FK Pelister – 1-0 home winners against FK Sileks. Promoted Skopje outfit FK Cementarnica 55 came from behind to draw 1-1 against FK Shkendija 79.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.