In an emotionally charged game, Vardar beat Hungarian PIK Szeged in their first qualifying game of the European handball Championship League with 31 goals to 23.

The fans of Macedonia’s leading sports outfit were scared about the performance of the team after Russian businessman Sergey Samsonenko announced he is withdrawing from the team. Samsonenko faced significant political pressure from the new Government to leave the country despite his major investment in the team which resulted in the 2017 Championship League trophy. Without his funding, it’s feared that little will remain of the award winning team.

The mood in Skopje was defiant. Next Time, a group made famous for its patriotic songs, performed in a stunning atmosphere.

After the initial opening exchanges, Vardar steamrolled Szeged in with 4 goals in ten minutes. A few referee decisions put Szeged back into the game at the end of the first half, but Skube was stellar for the Macedonian team, along with Karacic and Kristopans.

Vardar fans were chanting for a win at the return game in Hungary, on May 5th, and their calls drew parallels with the second round of the presidential elections, scheduled for the same day. Many in Vardar hope that a reversal in political fortunes in Macedonia could allow for Samsonenko to remain in the country.

The mood was such that VMRO leader Hristijan Mickoski donned a club jersey during his rallies today, and his presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova also sent her best wishes to the team.