Friday, July 14, 2006

Skopje's finest back in training

The countdown to the new season in F.Y.R. Macedonia has begun with three teams in European action and the league campaign beginning on 6 August.

Intertoto defeat
FK Pobeda became the first Macedonian side to kick a ball in anger in 2006/07 as they started their campaign in the first round of the UEFA Intertoto Cup. They were out of luck against Romania's FC Farul Constanta, losing out 4-2 on aggregate after a 2-2 draw at home in the first leg. Champions FK Rabotnicki have been back in training for some time as they look ahead to playing UEFA Champions League football. The club started their preparations with a training camp in Bansko, Bulgaria, and are readjusting their squad for the new campaign.

Aleksovski signs
FK Shkendija 79 forward Saso Aleksovski became their first signing of the summer, filling the gap left by Blaze Ilioski who has left to play in Korea Republic with Incheon United FC. The former Under-21 international player is also one of the key members of Srečko Katanec's Macedonian national side. UEFA Cup contenders FK Vardar and FK Makedonija GP Skopje have also been signing players for the new season. Vardar have brought in U21 international defender Nikola Tonev from FK Bregalnica Stip while Macedonian Cup winners Makedonija have signed former Shkendija player Artim Polozani.

New coaches
New coaches are also being appointed ahead of the new season with Serbo-Montenegrin coach Josip Pirmaer being replaced by fellow-countryman Slavko Jović after a disappointing campaign at FK Sileks. The 56-year-old Jović previously worked at OFK Beograd, FK Leotar, FK Kikinda and FK Napredok. Meanwhile, Nedzat Husein has resigned as coach of Shkendija following a terrific season which saw them reach the Macedonian Cup final and take fifth place in the table. The Tetovo club are expected to name his replacement in the next few weeks as the kick-off date for the new league campaign approaches.

Opening games
While the league's first fixtures will be played on 6 August, teams will be back in action on 30 July in the opening round of the Macedonian Cup. FK Pelister and Napredok are the two newly-promoted sides with the former taking on Makedonija at home in their first game back in the top division.

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