6 things you probably didn’t know about FK Rabotnicki
July 28, 2010 2 Comments
I’ll be honest with you. My Macedonian football knowledge extends only to Goran Pandev and recently released PNE midfielder Velice Shumulikoski (coincidently who I let rot in the reserves on Football Manager 09 at Ipswich).
Of course we can’t forget the goal David Seaman conceded from a corner at St Mary’s in 2002, which ended his tenure in international football. I still think David Seaman is vastly underrated as a keeper, but of course reputations will live on in players. Just ask Titus Bramble.
Macedonian football isn’t exactly held in high regard in the Europe. Currently ranked 39th in the UEFA Country coefficient, the chances of pulling off an upset is extremely unlikely. But to draw one of the biggest clubs in Europe for a European tie must be relished by Macedonians. In fact, Macedonia have two teams in the competition. Teteks are the other side and their tie against is slightly easier against Elfsborg.
Unfortunately for them, the big name players have all been rested for the game. No Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole, Pepe Reina, Fernando Torres and so on. A fit Alberto Aquilani has travelled though. This will allow Roy Hodsgon in his first competitive game in charge of Liverpool, to field some of his new signings. These will include Serbian striker Milan Jovanovic and highly rated Scot Danny Wilson. We should see some of younger players get a game too so Jay Spearing and former Charlton player Jonjo Shelvey being two such examples.
In the build-up to the game, even Rabotnicki’s coach has written off his side’s chances but will give it their all.
He said: “We have knocked out Mika, enabling fans in Macedonia to see one of the best teams next week. This is a great success for Rabotnicki and for Macedonian football. We are aware that Liverpool are 99% favourites, even in Skopje, but I can promise we will give our best”
So here’s a small guide to the club Liverpool will face in the Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round
1.Rabotnicki were founded in 1937 and are known as the Railway Boys of the four Skopje clubs (similar to Lokomotiv Moscow). They play in all red like Liverpool and the change strip is, as Michael Barrymore might say all white. Wow a tame Barrymore joke.
2.European football isn’t exactly new to them either. They faced Bolton in 06/07 in the first round of the Uefa Cup losing on aggregate 2-1. This was a rare win under now Liverpool assistant manager Sammy Lee at the club, but at least Sammy knows how to mastermind a win over them. The season before they played Lille in the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League but lost 4-0.
3.Rabotnicki have won the Macedonia First League (Macedonia Prva Liga) 3 times since it was rebranded in 1992. And to think Sky chose the English rather than Macedonian one. They were champions in 2005, 2006, 2008.
4.The main reason for the success in recent years is due to the takeover of the club in 2001 by iron ore company Kometal. The money invested into the club has seen them recruit several Brazilian players (a trend in many Eastern European countries) but Kometal ended their relationship with the club in 2008. Consequently, Rabotnicki haven’t been as successful since.
5.Of this Brazilian brigade, the player to be most wary of striker Wandeir. In fact, he recently acquired Macedonian citizenship and now plays for the national side. He joined Rabotnicki in 2009 and scored 9 in 17 games last year. He also had spell in Portugal with Naval. Another player to watch could be Fabio Silva, who is currently the topscorer in the Europa League so far, with 5 goals. Rabotnicki also have a Lampard like midfielder in Bobi Božinovski. He grabbed 15 goals for them last season. Shame that the defence will be under most scrutiny.
6. Rabotnicki play in the Phillip II Arena in Skopje. It has a capacity of 35,000 and is shared with rivals FK Vardar. It is currently undergoing expansion.
There we have it, your short guide to one of Macedonia’s biggest sides. I don’t think this tie is easy as Liverpool fans may think. They’ll go through but without key players and a shaky pre-season under a new boss, it could be tighter than many predict.