This season’s play-off for filling the Second League will be the most exciting as 8 teams will fight for only two spots.
The draw was originally supposed to take place on Monday, but due to some technical problems the Football Federation of Macedonia announced that it is being moved for Wednesday at 12.00 CET. That’s the time that eight clubs are hardly waiting since then they will learn their fate.
The play-off will be played in 2 phases:
1) the 8 teams will create four pairs, it will be played one game on neutral field with the winners advancing in the second round;
2) the 4 winners will create two pairs and will play 2 games, both on neutral field. The winners will win a place in the Second League season 2014/15.
What is strange is the format of the second round. It’s unclear how this “brilliant” idea of two teams playing a two legged clash with both games taking place on a neutral field got approved by the FFM. Obviously the away goal rule won’t stand, so what is the point of having two legs? Nevertheless, that’s the format according to which this play-off will be played.
Although not all Third League are concluded, all the participating teams are known and they are the following:
Miravci – finished 7th in the Second League. They are a solid team that fought untill the end to avoid the play-off zone and are surely one of the strong favourites for winning a place in the Second League next season. Last time they played in the Third League was in the season 2006/07.
Zajazi – finished 8th in the Second League. A team that escaped relegation thanks to the good signings during the winter transfer window. They shouldn’t be underestimated. They played their first ever season in the Second League.
Pobeda Junior – finished 9th in the Second League. With only two points above the relegation zone, Pobeda Junior kept its fans in suspense until the very end. Not one of the favourites in this play-off. This club is actually a ghost club of Pobeda, suspended from FIFA for match fixing.
Belasica – winner of the Third League East. Surely the most famous name among all in this play-off, but not the best. The club that created Goran Pandev is trying to get back in the Second League, they have a young squad that with a bit of luck in the draw can get promoted. They can get back into the Second League after spending two season in the Third League.
Goblen Junior – winner of the Third League North. Considered one of the weakest in the play-off, this recently founded club will try to surprise everyone. Got the attention as they broadcasted its games on a local tv channel in Kumanovo.
Vardar Negotino – winner of the Third League South. Another side that isn’t getting much chances for a promotion spot. They are dreaming to eventually get back in the Second League after being relegated in the season 2008/09.
Mladost Carev Dvor – winner of the Third League South-West. It’s the only Third League side that is actually a big favourite for winning promotion. With their good sponsor, Mladost CD acquired many well known players with first league experience and therefore it is expected to put on a good show in the play-off. They have never played above the Third League.
Vlazrimi – winner of the Third League West. They weren’t even expected to win the West, but somehow they did it. They will be hoping to get one of the other weaker teams, otherwise they don’t stand a chance. Once a First League side, they dropped from the Second League in 2011/12.
There won’t be seeded teams in the draw, so in the first round we may see matches between two Second League sides, between some of the favourites or even between some of the outsiders. One thing is sure, this season’s play-off for filling the Second League will be exciting as it has never been!