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Duel: Ardian Cuculi vs. Ivan Mitrov

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Shkendija will host Bregalnica on SaturdayShkendija will host Bregalnica on SaturdayOn Saturday, Shkendija hosts Bregalnica seeking to continue their winning ways in order to join the race for the top 3 places, while the visiting side will be looking to avoid the 9th place which leads to direct relegation this season.

After the massive rebuilding of the team during the winter transfer window, Shkendija has started playing much better and amassed 3 consecutive wins against top-of-the-table teams. They have escaped the relegation zone and are now in the middle of the table, just 6 points behind third placed Vardar with 8 rounds to go. On the other side, Bregalnica, although having noted wins against Horizont Turnovo (twice) and Metalurg this spring, still find themselves pretty close to the relegation zone and and will more points the rest of the way to put distance from the drop zone.

We reached out to Shkendija's left-back Ardian Cuculi and Bregalnica winger Ivan Mitrov to ask them about the upcoming match. Cuculi is a long-time Shkendija player, being part of the champions team in 2011, while Mitrov is now back in Bregalnica after a short odyssey with a Greek second division club.

MF: After the rebuilding of the squad, Shkendija started playing much better and won against the likes of Vardar, Rabotnichki and Horizont Turnovo. Your team is now just 6 points from third place. Can Shkendija continue this form and join the race for the Europa League qualifiers?
Cuculi: As a team, we approach it one match at a time. We are not bothered whether we are going to get to third place or higher, but of course, if we see a chance, we are not going to miss it. This team has the quality for a lot of things and I personally hope that with a serious approach in every match, we can be candidates for Europe.

MF: You are now back in Bregalnica this winter and although you had some nice wins against Horizont Turnovo and Metalurg, Bregalnica is still close to the relegation zone. Will you be able to avoid the drop?
Mitrov: I sure hope so, as does the whole team. We have a lot of tough matches coming up, but we will play until the end and hopefully in the next season we will still play in the first league.

MF: For a long time now, you are part of Shkendija and you were also a member of the champions team back in 2011. It is hard to compare, but do you think this team has the quality to repeat those successes in the next season?
Cuculi: Yes, I was part of that 'Golden Generation' and I am proud of that. I believe this team has the capacity to repeat that with one or two new signings for the next season.

MF: You played in the Greek second division and now you are back in Macedonia. Can you tell us about the quality and conditions of play over there?
Mitrov: Yes, that is the second highest tier in Greek football and while I can say the quality is pretty much the same here and there, the conditions for players are better over there.

MF: It is certain that both teams will be trying to get the win on Saturday. What do you consider to be your advantages and what disadvantages do you see in Bregalnica that you will be looking to exploit?
Cuculi: Yes, of course we are looking for a win here. We play at home, with our fans who are always supporting us in great numbers. With them behind us, everything is easier. I believe that we have a better team than Bregalnica and that is our advantage and we will be looking to exploit their weaknesses in defense.

MF: Both teams will obviously be trying to get the win on Saturday. What do you consider to be your advantages and what disadvantages do you see in Shkendija so you can take home 3 points back to Shtip?
Mitrov: Yes, both teams need the points from this match but to be honest, we would be satisfied if we can avoid defeat. We will, of course, do everything to return home with 3 points, but let's wait and see what happens on Saturday.

MF: From the visiting team you will face Ivan Mitrov. What do you think of him as a player?
Cuculi: Yes, I know and value Ivan as a player, but I hope he will have an off-day on Saturday as in Tetovo there are no points for visiting teams.

MF: From the home team you will face Ardian Cuculi. What do you think of him as a player?
Mitrov: I am aware of Ardian who in my opinion is one of the best left backs in our league.

We wish both of them a good game on Saturday and may the best team win. The match will be broadcast live on MTV Sobraniski. For all those living outside Macedonia, there is a chance to watch a livestream here.

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