Beitar Jerusalem players celebrating.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Beitar Jerusalem is confident of progressing to the second qualifying round of the Europa League next week after drawing 0-0 with Ordabasy Shymkent in the first leg of the first qualifying round in Kazakhstan on Thursday.
Beitar didn’t impress in its first match of the 2015/16 campaign, which came less than five weeks after its final match of 2014/15.
However, the goalless deadlock puts it in a promising position ahead of the return leg at Teddy Stadium next Thursday.
Beitar recorded few chances in its first match in continental competition since 2008, but kept the hosts at bay in the sweltering conditions, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.
“We played like one cohesive unit and we did our job,” said new Beitar coach Slobodan Drapic. “I’m proud of the players.
We are still not in shape, but we completed our mission in impossible weather and on a tough pitch. I’m certain that next week in our stadium it will be a very different match.”
Should Beitar overcome its Kazakh opponent over the two legs, it will play strong Belgian outfit Charleroi in the second qualifying round.
Hapoel Beersheba will begin its participation in the Europa League in the second qualifying round where it will face Thun of Switzerland.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona will enter the competition in the third qualifying round.
“We didn’t play well because we have only just started training and we ran out of energy,” said new striker Dovev Gabay.
“I’m sure that next week you will see a different Beitar. All we cared about today was the result and we will have to be more dominant in Teddy.”
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv is continuing its preparations for the start of its Champions League qualifying campaign against Hibernians of Malta. The yellowand- blue visits Hibernians in the first leg of the second qualifying round on July 14 before hosting the return leg at Bloomfield Stadium a week later.
Maccabi is currently preparing for the season in a training camp in Austria and will face Diosgyori VTK of Hungary in its second pre-season match on Friday.
“We’ve been in training camp for a number of days already and we are working very hard for the upcoming season, especially for the Champions League second round qualifying match,” said forward Tal Ben-Haim, who signed a fouryear contract extension earlier this week.
“It’s a chance for us to meet the new head coach Slavisa Jokanovic and an opportunity to work on ourselves after a nice break from the treble season. It’s good to be playing preseason matches and even though they aren’t official games, they help us get back into a routine. This is the best way for us to get back into a regular schedule and prepare for the new season.”