Arriving at the newly built Macedonian National Arena in Gradski Park twenty minutes before kick-off, I thought I had got the time wrong. I couldn’t find a ticket office and there and a lack of football fans. After walking up and down a few times past some bars I figured out that a man serving from a portable table was where tickets were purchased for approximately 1,50 Euro (100 den).
Rabotnicki Skopje was founded in 1937 and have won 13 titles. In the 2000s they’ve been competing in UEFA Cup and Championship Leagues qualifiers.
For a world class stadium seating approximately 40,000, it was empty with the only area open to sit on the wing. There was no fan-zone, singing or atmosphere. Most of the spectators were made up of old men puffing on cigarettes.
Obviously proud of the brand-new speaker system, loud techno music was pumped out before the game, during the drink break due to the heat and at half time.
The standard of play was poor from the start with pathetic passing and missed opportunities. Also the refereeing was atrocious with a missed handball decision and a ball obviously out of play however not picked up.
After 14 minutes, Rabotnicki scored. The player celebration was slightly over the top as they jumped on each other and injured the goal scorer in the process.
Drita scored a penalty not long after the drink break at the 30 minute mark when the Rabotnicki goalkeeper brought a player down in the square.
Half time score 1-1.
Police were enjoying a relaxing day at work as they sat in groups of three or four watching the football and playing with their mobile phones.
In the second half two teenage boys sat behind me began singing half-heartedly but got bored and gave up quickly.
Stretching to save a very wide shot at goal by Drita, the Rabotnicki goalie head-butted the goalpost and knocked himself out resulting in an ambulance taking him away.
There was a lot of rolling around on the ground in imaginary pain but the referee took no notice. It’s all a stroll in the park and lazy game with players during play waving to friends or family in the stand.
Drita had many corner kicks in the second half but had no support from their own players as most the team are on the half way line with three left in the box to try capitalize on the chance. Drita go 2-1 up at the 78 minute mark after getting one past the replacement goalkeeper.
In the end the score is 2-2. Rabotnicki equalise late in injury time to save them from defeat.