Shimon Gershon 298.88.
(photo credit: )
New Betar Jerusalem manager Ossie Ardiles may have plans to bring exciting, attacking soccer to the club, but it was the defensive side of the team that was bolstered over the weekend with the signing of two experienced players.
On Thursday, Betar confirmed that former Hapoel Tel Aviv captain Shimon Gershon and Roni Gafni, the ex-captain of Bnei Yehuda, will both be joining the club.
Assistant coach Guy Azuri also said Saturday that Maccabi Haifa midfielder Michael Zandberg is expected to sign for Betar.
Gershon, a central defender, had already made clear his intentions to move to the Jerusalem club at an emotional press conference last week.
The Israel international had played at Hapoel for 10 years but decided it was time to move on.
Ardiles has put his trust in Betar's management to sign whichever Israeli players it decided on, and Azuri said he believed Gershon and Gafni, a left back, will become important parts of the Betar squad.
"We think Shimon Gershon is a great player and a leader. He is someone who will speak on the pitch," Azuri told The Jerusalem Post. "He has the experience and the ability to be a very important factor at Betar.
"Gafni is one of the top left backs in Israel and we think he will do a good job."
The acquisition of Gafni put a question mark on the future of young defender Eliran Danin. But Azuri dismissed reports that Danin is looking to leave the club, saying it was important for Betar to have "two good players in every position, and Danin is a very good player."
Gafni, who played at Bnei Yehuda for the last five years, said he left the club "with a heavy heart."
"The club was home for me and I had five great years there," Gafni said, "But I have come to Betar to help it become the best soccer team in Israel. Betar is a big club with a great crowd and I am sure I will do well here."
Ardiles left Israel for England on Saturday. He will return in two weeks' time, and on June 26 travel to Holland, where Betar will hold a training camp.
The Jerusalem side's season is scheduled to begin on July 14 with the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup.