Hap TA, Mac Haifa face first-leg challenges

The new-look Hapoel Tel Aviv will hope to make a promising first impression when it visits PFC Beroe of Bulgaria in the first leg of the Europa League second qualifying round on Thursday night.

By
July 18, 2013 00:19
1 minute read.
Rami Ben-Shimon.

Rami Ben-Shimon 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

The new-look Hapoel Tel Aviv will hope to make a promising first impression when it visits PFC Beroe of Bulgaria in the first leg of the Europa League second qualifying round on Thursday night.

While Maccabi Haifa coach Arik Benado is set to only make a couple of changes from the lineup he implemented at the end of last season when the Greens host Xazar Lankaran of Azerbaijan in their Europa League first leg on Thursday, Hapoel has undergone a complete overhaul this summer.

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The most significant change will be on the sidelines, with Ran Ben-Shimon taking charge as coach. The 42-yearold led Ironi Kiryat Shmona to an historic championship in the 2011/12 season and is back coaching in Israel after one season in Cyprus with AEK Larnaca.

Ben-Shimon has rebuilt the squad almost from scratch, with eight of the team’s likely starters on Thursday only joining the club this summer.

There will be three new foreigners among the debutants, defenders Jurgen Colin and Branko Ilic, who both joined from Anorthosis Famagusta in Cyprus, and Brazilian midfielder Lucas Sasha.

Ben-Shimon has also brought in goalkeeper Danny Amos and Bryan Gerzicich from Ironi Kiryat Shmona, with the promising Israel Zaguri joining from Hapoel Ramat Gan and Israel international Itay Shechter returning to the club after two seasons in Europe.

“In the early stages of European competition the most important thing is to play smart soccer, especially on the road,” said Ben-Shimon, who will have to manage without the injured Gili Vermut on Thursday.

“I have no doubt that we are building a good team and this will be an early test for us. Beroe is a very good side at home, but I trust my players.”

Spanish midfielder Ruben Rayos, who joined from Asteras Tripoli in Greece, and Shimon Abu Hazeira, who was brought in from Kiryat Shmona, are set to make their debuts for Haifa on Thursday.

On TV: Europa League qualifiers first-leg: PFC Beroe vs Hapoel Tel Aviv (live on Sport5 at 7:30 p.m.); Maccabi Haifa vs Khazar Lankaran (live on Sport 1 at 7:50 p.m.)


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