Maccabi Tel Aviv stocks up for European run

Dasa, Azulai transfer from Beitar ahead of deadline, Yellow-and-blue loses to Mac PT in Toto Cup.

August 11, 2015 05:59
3 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv

Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Barak Badash (right) was given a chance in the yellow-and-blue’s starting lineup last night, but he failed to find the back of the net in the 3-0 Toto c up defeat to Maccabi Petah Tikva at Bloomfield Stadium. . (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Maccabi Tel Aviv bolstered its squad with two new players on monday, signing  Eli Dasa and Shlomi Azulai from Beitar Jerusa - lem for a transfer fee estimated at 1.8 million euros.

Mccabi sports director Jordi Cruyff insisted last week that the team must add depth after it overcame Viktoria Plzen in the Champions league third qualifying round, securing the yellow- and-blue an extended continental campaign.

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Tel Aviv faces FC Basel for a place in the Champions league group stage, with the loser to be handed a berth in the Europa league groups.

Monday was the transfer dead - line for teams playing in the Champions l eague playoffs, although d asa will not be able to face Basel anyway as he is carrying a two-match UAFA suspension from his time with Beitar.

Maccabi can add one more player for the playoffs until 24 hours prior to the first leg.

Basel hosts the first leg on August 19, with the second leg to be played in Israel on August 25.

“I am happy to welcome Eli Dasa and Shlomi Azulai who will hopefully continue to improve at Maccabi,” said Cruyff after the two signed four-year deals. “We lost many players during the summer and need to increase our competitiveness. I am certain that they will add to the existing hunger for trophies in the squad.”

The 22-year-old Dasa came through the Beitar youth department, becoming the team’s starting right-back and captain and earning a call-up to the Israel national team.

The 25-year-old Azulai was playing for Hapoel Rishon Lezion of the National league just over a year ago. However, the midfielder shined in his debut season at Beitar in 2014/15 and is also a member of the Israel squad.

Maccabi continued its preparations for next week’s first leg in Switzerland on Monday, losing 3-0 to Maccabi Petah Tikva in Toto Cup action at Bloomfield Stadium.

Tel Aviv started with a weakened lineup, including 17-year- old goalkeeper Aviv Ohayon, and struggled throughout the match. Xavier Tomas (30), Dor Hugi (36) and Gidi Kanyuk (90) scored for Petah Tikva.

In Toto Cup action on Tuesday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Hapoel Acre and Maccabi Netanya visits Hapoel Kfar Saba.

Beitar fans were outraged with the departures of Dasa and Azulai, claiming that owner Eli Tabib shouldn’t have profited from the sale of the players after saying that he has no intention of continuing at the club following the fan trouble in Charleroi, Belgium.

“It is important to emphasize that they both wanted to leave in order to progress both professionally and financially,” a Beitar press release read. “ Due to the financial damages, estimated at millions of shekels, caused to the club by some of the fans last sea - son and in the Europa league qualifiers, the sale of the players was inevitable.”

The press release added that no other players will be sold and that Tabib is doing his utmost to bring in another player or two.

Meanwhile, Maccabi received UAFA ’s approval to host the second leg against Basel at Bloomfield after representatives from European soccer’s governing body inspected the venue on Monday.

Maccabi had initially announced that it would host Basel at Sammy Ofer stadium in Haifa, believing that it would have to use the same stadium for the playoffs and the group stage. However, UAFA confirmed on Friday that Maccabi can switch its home venue following the playoffs and that announcement combined with pressure from fans and coach Slavisa Jokanovic resulted in a reversal of the decision.

The yellow-and-blue will host its Champions league group stage matches in Haifa should it advance, while Bloomfield will be used for the Europa league group stage if Maccabi loses to Basel.

“I would rather play at my home, which is Bloomfield. Sammy Ofer may be bigger, but it’s not our home,” said Jokanovic

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