Today three teams from Macedonia took part in the Europa League qualifications. Renova and Sileks were eliminated, while Shkendija kicked out Botoșani on the road.
photo by KF Shkendija Tetovo: the players & staff after the match
Renova had the first game of the day and hosted Hajduk at the Petar Miloshevski training center in Skopje. Coach Bujar Islami fielded the team in his usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Velii on goal, Fetai at RB, Shala at LB, Mishkovski and Abdulla at CB, Gavazaj and Sadiki in defensive midfield, captain Gafuri as a supporting striker, Shefiti on the left wing, Velija on the other, whereas Ramadani was the loan striker. Visitors Hajduk started better and opened the score already in the 4th minute thanks to gifts by Renova. First a Renova player lost the ball close to the box, afterwards the defense was bad organized on the following high ball. The result was an easy header by Caktaš. During the game Hajduk had a lot of opportunities to double the score, but Renova’s goalie Velii had a great game and stopped a lot of shots. Renova was weak in the first half, but started to get better during the second half when Muharem, Veliu and Jasharoski came off the bench. Renova now created some good chances, but none of the players was able to score a goal, so Hajduk won on the road 0:1. Worth to mention is also that Macedonia’s U21 national team player Jani Atanasov played for Hajduk the last quarter hour in central midfield.
Shkendija was the second team in action from Macedonia on this day. They played at Botoșani and made a small surprise by eliminating the Romanian team with a 0:1. Coach Gjoka let the players play in a 4-3-3 with Zahov on goal, Murati and Pavić as the lateral backs, captain Bejtulai and Krivak in central defense, Alimi and Dita in front of the defense, Totre at AMC, Ahmedi and Doriev on the wings, while Ibraimi was the CF. Later Nafiu, Zejnulai and Merxhani were introduced. Ibraimi scored the opener early in the 2nd minute with a lob over the goalkeeper. Hosts Botoșani, for whom the Macedonian international Stefan Ashkovski (on the LW) and David Babunski (in CM) were starters, had more from the game all over the 90 minutes, nevertheless they were not able to create a lot of quality chances. Shkendija’s goalie Zahov was in good shape on this day and made some good saves in combination with a secure game. That was enough to reach the next round. In the next round Shkendija will host Tottenham.
Highlights (Ibraimi’s goal at 0:35):
Sileks had the last game of the day and played in the Toshe Proeski stadiun against Drita. Coach Simov brought the team with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Bozhinovski was on goal, captain Timovski and Karcheski the lateral backs, Grozdanoski and Drašković at CB, Ristov and Serafimovski in central midfield, Mustafov in attacking midfield, Tanturovski and Ivanovski on the wings, while Gorgiev was the CF. Sileks dominated from the first minute in a game on a rather low quality for an EL qualifications second round game. Despite dominating Sileks was not able to achieve good opportunities, so the half-time result was 0:0. In the 48th minute there was a penalty for Drita that was converted by Gerbeshi. Now Sileks started to play more offensive, also Kostovski, Đurić and Spirkoski came in, but all in vain as in the 78th minute CB Grozdanoski received his second yellow card of the game and thus was sent off. Just two minutes later Drita doubled the lead with a goal by Limani. That was enough to down Sileks 0:2 on the road. Furthermore, in this game two players from Macedonia played for Drita. Ardian Cuculi was from the start in central defense, while RB Vladica Brdarovski was introduced in the 67th minute to play as a right wing.
In the end a disappointing day for Macedonia’s football. Renova was an outsider against Hajduk, but still had the chance to continue to the next round. Shkendija moved to the third round despite not having a very good day, while Sileks was eliminated by a weaker opponent. So two out of three teams were eliminated even though all three were able to do more.