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Preview: Shkendija – Portadown

Europa League logo With the match against Portadown, Shkendija begins the Europa League campaign which will hopefully last beyond this round.

Shkendija hosts Portadown in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League, starting today at 17.30 CET in Kumanovo.  The match will be played there since the main stadium in Skopje is still not quite ready following the renovations.

Although several key players left Shkendija after the end of last season, the club signed some suitable replacements which are expected to prove their worth in this match.  Manager Kjatip Osmani will probably start with three newcomers in Muzafer Ejupi (attack), Burhan Alii (midfield) and Trajce Nikov (keeper).  The other eight starters should be players that featured for Shkendija last season.  The club will not only look for a win, but also attempt to hold a clean sheet since away goals are crucial.

Shkendija’s opponents, Portadown, finished in second place this past season in Northern Ireland.  Their manager is Ronnie McFall who has been with the club since 1986.  Portadown is a semi-professional club but in no way should be underestimated.  Just last year, another club from Northern Ireland in Glentoran eliminated Renova, also in the first round of the Europa League qualifications.

According to online bookmakers, Shkendija is the firm favorite to win the game.  The Tetovo based club is priced at 1.30, draw is set at around 4.50, while if Portadown returns to Northern Ireland with a win, you will be given 9 Euros for every Euro bet on the game.

Eitan Shemeulevitch of Israel will be the referee for this match.  There has been no TV coverage planned at this time. However, announced live stream coverage. The ticket price is set at 300 Denars (5 Euros).

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