Tuesday Oct 27, 2020  
  09/08/2011: Reja on Rabotnicki: We close it at Olimpico
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Edoardo Reja spoke about the opener of the season for Lazio against FK Rabotnicki for La Repubblica. He said he has the dvd of Rabotnicki on his nightstand. The coach decided to research the Macedonian side in his free day (yesterday) and this morning too, so Lazio can be prepared. Today at Formello begins the preparation for the Europe League first game and Reja will reveal his strategy to the players. Things get serious for the tactician: "The Europe League is the first objective of the season. We must not make a mistake".

It will be a debut game for la Lazio against a Macedonian team. The draw in Nyon seems to favor the Biancocelesti, but only on paper. Rabotnicki will play against Lazio thanks to a victory over Anorthosis (Cyprus). The same team that couple of years ago made it hard for Inter and Werder Bremen in the Champions League. Reja comments on Rabotnicki: "They are a young team, that focuses om freshness and speed".

FK Rabotnicki is based in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. Founded in 1937 the team played in the lower division of Yugoslavia and later Macedonia, but in the last decade the team has been a major factor in the championship. Rabotnicki appears on the football scene after being purchased by Kometal - a well know construction company in the region - in 2001. In season 2002/2003 they finish second and play in the UEFA Cup. They have won the title in seasons 2004/2005, 2005/2006 and 2006/2007.  At home stage they have been the leading club, but now they are jumping over the border.  They took part three times in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.  In July 2011, thanks to their 5 consecutive victories, they have been named the team of the month by IFFHS (International federation of football history and statistics).  The club is run by an "association of veterans", which includes lawyers, businessmen, professors, ambassadors etc.

The club's average age is 21-22 years. The goalkeeper is 17. The "oldest" player and representative of the club is the 26 year old Borce Manevski. He is the play maker of the team and has played along side Goran Pandev in the Macedonian national team. The coach usually plays Manevski behind the two strikers, born 1990, in a 4-3-1-2 system. Manevski this year has played 27 games, scoring 19 goals. The other "veteran" is the German Stephan Vujcic (his father is Macedonian) who warns Lazio: "Against the Biancoceleste we will give our best".

Reja urges the players to close the round on Olimpico on the 18th of August.  He said that it would have been better for Lazio to play the first game away, but it can not be an excuse. The team should focus on the first game, because they don't know what is the environment in Macedonia. But Stephan Vujcic comments, that they rarely play in front of more than 300 people in their 32,000 stadium, which is Philip II Arena. Around 2,000 people gather to watch, but only at the derbies. The football culture in Macedonia is not as good as in Germany he continues. Another reason for people not buying tickets is the poverty.

(Georgi Angelov)
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