Hap TA hosts Plzen in high-stakes showdown
Reds look to keep hopes of advancing alive with win over Czechs; K8 fading fast.
Hapoel Tel Aviv's Tal Ben-Haim Photo: REUTERS
Hapoel Tel Aviv faces its most crucial match of the Europa League group stage
when it hosts Viktoria Plzen at Bloomfield Stadium on Thursday night according
to coach Yossi Abuksis.
A 92nd-minute equalizer by Omer Damari gave
Hapoel a precious point on the road against Academica de Coimbra of Portugal in
its last continental match three weeks ago and Abuksis believes that if the Reds
have any intention of advancing to the round of 32 they will need to beat the
Czechs on Thursday.
“The group was blown wide open thanks to Damari’s
goal and we hope to beat Plzen at home because we will have a far tougher
mission against them on the road in two weeks,” Abuksis said.
think we are the favorites. Plzen is a very strong side and I don’t think
either team can be branded as the favorite.”
Hapoel enters the match on
the back of a 3-0 victory over Maccabi Haifa which put it within three points of
the top of the Premier League standings with a game in hand.
also visits Betar Jerusalem for its third match in a week on Monday and Abuksis
said he plans to make a couple of changes to his lineup to keep the team
While Hapoel is well placed in both European and local
competitions, Ironi Kiryat Shmona is nearing crisis mode ahead of its visit to
Sparta Prague in Group I of the Europa League on Thursday night.
Shmona has picked up just a single point from its past four league matches,
while suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat against Olympique Lyon in Europe
three weeks ago after conceding a goal two minutes into stoppage
“Despite all the talk of pressure and a crisis we remain strong and
united,” said coach Barak Bachar, who replaced Gili Landau the day before the
loss to Lyon.
“Prague beat Bilbao at home so we know we are facing a
tough match, but we certainly believe we can record a good result.”