The New Saints make their return to competitive football this Tuesday (10th) as their UEFA Champions League campaign begins against KF Shkëndija in the Macedonian capital of Skopje.
The Macedonian champions won their domestic league by 35 points last season, scoring 101 goals and shipping just 27 in the process.
This year marks their first appearance in the Champions League since the 2011-2012 season, when they were eliminated in the second qualifying round after losing 5-0 on aggregate to Partizan Belgrade.
The Macedonians have though, in the last couple of seasons, put in some very credible performances in the UEFA Europa League. In the last two campaigns, Shkëndija reached the play-off round of that competition, and were eliminated 7-0 on aggregate by Italian giants AC Milan last August.
Although the match will take place at the Philip II Stadium in the capital of Skopje, 28 miles away from Tetovo, the city where Shkëndija are based, the hosts will be well supported. They attracted an attendance of 26,500 for the aforementioned match against AC Milan at the same stadium.
After a pre-season training camp in Portugal, friendlies against fellow Welsh sides Cefn Druids and Bala Town, plus trips to face Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy and Rangers, the TNS players have had plenty of opportunities to work their way into Scott Ruscoe’s plans.
Last season’s Champions League First qualifying round was the first match of Ruscoe’s managerial career and after overseeing a fantastic away comeback victory against Europa FC, before eventually bowing out to HNK Rijeka, he’ll be eager for another chance in the famous competition.
Speaking immediately after the draw was made he said:
“It was probably the second or third toughest team we could’ve got.
“We’ll be doing our homework now over the next few weeks, studying their games to see their strengths and weaknesses and obviously finding out as much as we can about the team.”
The match kicks off at 8.15pm local time (7.15pm in the UK) and you can follow all of the action from Macedonia via TNS Radio. As always, the link can be found on the homepage of our website.
Plus, be sure to follow our social media channels for further updates as the night progresses.
We look forward to your company.