Prva Liga leaders FK Rabotnicki have rebuilding to do during the winter break following striker Ivan Trickovski's dream move to FK Crvena Zvezda.
Off to Belgrade
After a three-week winter break, most of the clubs in F.Y.R. Macedonia are back in training in preparation for the season which restarts at the beginning of March. Rabotnicki are ten points clear of FK Milano at the top of the table, and a further six ahead of arch-rivals FK Vardar, but with Trickovski having moved to Belgrade to join Crvena Zvezda, they have work to do.
Dream come true
Trickovski has signed a three-and-a-half year contract at the Serbian champions, with Rabotnicki alleged by some to have netted €800,000 from the deal. The player said: "My dream has come true. Finally I will get to play for the club that I have supported since I was a child." It looks like an excellent bit of business for the club, and just reward for Trickovski.
The 20-year-old striker had an excellent year in 2007. Eight goals in the first half of the Macedonian season saw him enter the winter break as the league's top scorer, and having already been a fixture in the national Under-21 team, he was given a first chance to impress with the senior squad, making it to the bench for the UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifier against Andorra.
His departure will leave a big hole to fill at Rabotnicki, but coach Dragoljub Bekvalac has already started to rebuild, signing two former FK Vardar players. Defender Nikola Gjosevski arrived from Greek side Ethnikos Piraeus FC while goalkeeper Ljupco Kmetovski has signed from Milano, the Kumanovo-based side who are shining in their first season since winning promotion.
The other big news in F.Y.R. Macedonia concerns the national team, where Slovenian coach Srečko Katanec accepted a new two-year contract in December to keep him in charge until the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Friendly games have been lined up against Serbia, most likely to be played in Skopje, on 6 February, and Poland, on 26 May – probably in Germany – to keep F.Y.R. Macedonia sharp.
With an eye to future international fixtures, a major refit is being undertaken at the Gradski Stadium in Skopje, the traditional home of the national team. The north stand is set to be completely rebuilt over the next 18 months and will eventually seat around 30,000 supporters.
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