Battle for the top on Sunday as second-placed Turnovo hosts leaders Vardar. We used this opportunity to ask few questions to Zoran Baldovaliev and Dragan Gjorgiev.
After 8 years of a rich international career, striker Zoran Baldovaliev is back in the Macedonian best league. He joined Turnovo and surprisingly the team from the small village near Strumica is fighting for the title. On the other side is no other but talented young attacker Dragan Gjorgiev who after 7 years in Turnovo this summer switched to Vardar.
So far Turnovo is having a great season. Can the team keep the rhythm until the end and attack on the title?
Zoran: There are three more games until the first half-season that I hope we will play them on a high level and therefore to close this great half-season. Our ambition is to finish among the top three teams on the table, but why not being champions? I think the team has the strength to keep the rhythm, on the end we have experienced players that play together for a while plus with the newcomers we are now a good team that is hungry for success.
Until few months ago you were part of Turnovo and now you will be attacking at their goal. The Kukush stadium used to be your home for many years. What feeling do you expect to have when on Sunday you will show up there as opposing player?
Dragan: Despite everything, I’m a Vardar player now. In Turnovo I passed 7 unforgettable years of my life and now I will be facing my ex teammates, a team that has been playing together for years and has advanced so much thanks to the businessman Orce Todorov. As an attacker I want on every game to score and it won’t be different on Sunday. Vardar has its own target and that are the three points from every game.
You played abroad for many years but now you are back in Macedonia. What’s the difference between the football in Macedonia from 8 years ago when you left and now?
Zoran: There is big difference. 8 years ago there were a lot more teams that had title ambitions like Belasica, Vardar, Pobeda, Sloga Jugomagnat, Pelister and Rabotnichki. Every game was some kind of a derby and there were a lot more fans at the stadiums. I hope that the current situation will change to better and we will have good football again.
Looking back at the summer, Vardar needed only one goal to eliminate BATE Borisov and they are now playing in the Champions League group stage and even made two wins. It was very a close duel, but did Vardar was missing experience, luck or something else? And have the ambitions grown higher for next season?
Dragan: We went in Belarus to take our chances, to play football, we showed that we can play good, we scored twice and we had a 2:1 lead. We missed a bit of luck, we failed to stay up in the last moment of the game when the experience of the BATE players was crucial. On the return leg we wanted to score but we simply couldn’t although we needed only one goal. We had couple of chances but the important is that we showed that we can match teams like BATE. Of course, next season our goal is to play international football again.
Only 1 defeat has Turnovo so far and that was against your Sunday opponent but in Skopje. This game will be a direct battle for the table top, both teams are in good form so what will be more important in matches like this one, motivation or tactics?
Zoran: Yes, we’ve been defeated only once this season and by Vardar. In my opinion, this game is no different than the others. Maybe it can decide the winner of the half-season, but there are a lot of games until the end of the season. Motivation shouldn’t even be discussed as games like these are easy to give the players a boost. We must be patient, tactically well organized and have to wait for our chance.
Curently Vardar tops the table but it’s obvious that the battle will be a lot tougher this season. Has Vardar the strength to defend the title?
Dragan: Vardar is up there where its place is. Anyway, besides opponents like Turnovo, Shkendija and Metalurg our goal from the beginning of the season has been to win the double, the League and the Cup. We strive for the three points on every game so it’s not a coincidence that we top the table.
What do you think about Dragan Gjorgiev who will face you in this game?
Zoran: Dragan is a young player who has a great talent. We will certainly watch him in some European club in the future.
What do you think about Zoran Baldovaliev who will face you in this game?
Dragan: For Zoran I can say only good stuff. I know him personally and I’m aware of his qualities as a player. It’s enough to see the names of the clubs where he used to play, he has played for the national team and Turnovo gained much with him on the team.
We wish them a good game on Sunday and may the better team wins!