EL draw: Shkupi gets Rangers, Vardar smiles

Only Vardar got an opponent that they could eliminated. Shkupi got the worst possible draw in Scottish giants Rangers, while Rabotnichki was paired with Hungarian side Honvéd.

The draw for the first qualifying round in the new season of the Europa League took place today in the Swiss town of Nyon. And it was not a good draw for the Macedonian teams.

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Past seasons runners-up Vardar, who participated in the group stage of the Europa League, is the only team that could smile after the draw. As seeded, they were drawn to play against Armenian side Pyunik, notorious for being the opponent of Pobeda in the 2004/05 Champions League qualifications. Pobeda was later blamed for fixing those tries and eventually banned for 8 years. Vardar will play the first leg away.

Third-placed Rabotnichki was also seeded and will also play on the road in the first leg. But they will visit Hungary to face the team of Honvéd who was the worst possible draw the Debar Maalo team could get. Like every year, Rabotnichki loses the key players before the European qualifications in which enter drastically weakened.

The only unseeded team, Shkupi, who ended the season on the fourth place and earned an international spot thanks to Shkendija who beat Pelister in the cup final, got the worst draw of all Macedonian teams. The popular Pigeons got matched with Rangers, one of the two legendary Scottish clubs. Shkupi was drawn to play the first game on the road.

Since all three Macedonian clubs were drawn to play away in the first leg and at home in the second, there may be some changes to that. Vardar and Rabotnichki both share the National Arena Philip II of Macedon, while Shkupi’s stadium doesn’t have the minimum requirements for hosting an international match so they will have to also play at Philip II of travel to Strumica.

The first leg matches will be played on 12 July, while the returns a week later on the 19th.

The draw for the second qualifying round took place later today:

Samtredia (GEO) / Tobol (KAZ) vs. Pyunik (ARM) / Vardar (MKD)
Honvéd (HUN) / Rabotnichki (MKD) vs. Progrès (LUX) /Qəbələ (AZE)
Petrocub (MDA) / Osijek (CRO) vs. Rangers (SCO) / Shkupi (MKD)

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