Maccabi Tel Aviv, hosting Xazar, hopes for a bright start

Maccabi Tel Aviv to hosts Xazar Lankaran FK of Azerbaijan in the first leg of the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

July 14, 2011 05:34
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Moti Ivanir

Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Moti Ivanir 311. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Moti Ivanir is hoping the club can embark on a bright new era when it hosts Xazar Lankaran FK of Azerbaijan in the first leg of the second qualifying round of the Europa League at Bloomfield Stadium on Thursday night.

After a bitterly disappointing 2010/11, Maccabi is determined to get the new season off on the right foot in the hope of eventually mounting a serious challenge for the Premier League title for the first time since winning the championship seven years ago.

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The start of the league campaign is still more than a month away, but Ivanir said Wednesday that he is very pleased with his new squad and is confident that the fans will see a team that give its all in every match, starting on Thursday.

“We want to set out on a new course and change what has been here in recent years,” Ivanir said. “We want to see our players more committed and we want to see better team work, with every player giving everything he has on the field.”

Despite the fact that Xazar has never won a European tie in four previous attempts, Ivanir remains wary of the club, known in its local media as ”Caucasian Chelsea” due to its heavy spending.

Lankaran is guided by top Romanian coach Mircea Rednic and has added some 14 players to its squad in the offseason, including three Brazilians, five Romanians and several other players of different nationalities.

“The league in Azerbaijan may not be so highly regarded, but this is a European team,” Ivanir said. “We are focusing on our play much more than we are on the opponent and I expect to see my team play determined and aggressive soccer.

“I think Maccabi is building itself for a wonderful future, but I hope that we don’t have to wait too long for it.”

Also Thursday, Bnei Yehuda will visit UE Sant Julià of Andorra in the first leg of its second qualifying round tie.

“I feel we are ready for this match,” said new coach Yossi Abuksis. “We are treating this match very seriously and we will make sure we play committed soccer.”

Hapoel Tel Aviv will begin its Europa League campaign in the third qualifying round.

On TV: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Xäzär Länkäran (live on Sport 1 at 8 p.m.)

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