In the first leg of the first round of the Europa League qualifications, Shkendija hosted Dacia Chișinău from Moldova and recorded an unexpacted easy win.
Last season Shkendija had a good run in the EL qualifications, so the expectations for this season are not low despite the mediocre season in the 1. MFL. The side from Tetovo hired a new coach in Qatip Osmani who was also their manager in the past. Osmani didn’t make a lot of changes as he started with well known players. Kostadin Zahov started between the posts, Todorovski and Čeliković at the lateral defensive position and Bejtulai and Cuculi in central defense. Vujcić and Alimi played in defensive midfield with Hasani in front of the in attacking midfield, while Radeski and Stênio Júnior opened on the wings and Ibraimi played up front.
Shkendija dominated from the first minute and it was centre-forward Besart Ibraimi who netted the opener when he converted a penalty in the 5th minute. It was Radeski who was fouled inside the box, and Marjan continued to be dangerous throughout the whole game. Just six minutes after the penalty it was Radeski who had a tap-in from close range after Stênio Júnior’s effort was deflected by the goalkeeper. In the 17th minute Alimi scored a goal, but the referee ruled offside as some Shkendija players stayed in front of the goalie. After the break the domination continued and that resulted in Shkendija’s third goal, at the same time Radeski’s second. It happened in the 75th minute when Radeski headed home a corner by Hasani. The home team had some more chances, the game could have easily ended 4:0 od 5:0, but Shkendija frittered away a couple of could oppurtunities.
It seems that Shkendija is almost in the next round where they would face Connah’s Quay Nomads from Wales or finnish side HJK Helsinki. Nevertheless, they have to be careful and also every win is important to race Shkendija’s and Macedonia’s rating, thus Shkendija could get easier opponents in upcoming qualifications.