By Igor Panevski
UEFA Cup debutants FK Baskimi and NK Zepce both showed their nerves at playing in their first tie in the competition as chances were few and far between in this first qualifying round match in Skopje.
While Bashkimi had earned their place via their first Macedonian Cup victory, Zepce came in because Bosnia-Herzegovnian Cup winners FK Sarajevo and league runners-up NK Željeznicar both failed to meet UEFA's licensing criteria, giving the chance to the team 13th in 2004/05.
Zepce went closest to scoring on 76 minutes when Edis Kurtic shot just wide from 30 metres. However, that was the nearest either side came to hitting the target on a day when defences dominated. The teams meet again a fortnight today for a place in the second qualifying round.
Bashkimi coach Burhan Beadini said: "This is our first appearance in European competition. I said we had to play carefully but I am not pleased with our performance. Nonetheless, it is good that we stopped them scoring. We have a solid team and I hope we will be better in the second match and go through to the next round. Both teams have a 50-50 chance."
"I am satisfied with the result," said Beadini's opposite number, Nikola Nikic. "We came to Skopje to avoid defeat and to try not to concede a goal. We apologise for the poor spectacle but it should be a better game in Zenica. Both sides were playing their first UEFA Cup match and both were cautious."
He added: "Last year we did not even dream about playing in the UEFA Cup, now it is real and that is the reason we played like we did. In the second leg we will try to earn a victory and take our place in the next round."