Maccabi Haifa 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Haifa coach Elisha Levy was in an optimistic mood on Monday ahead of his team's Champions League playoff first leg against Red Bull Salzburg in Austria on Wednesday.
The Israeli champion held its first training session in Salzburg on Monday, and Levy believes his team has a good chance of reaching the group stage for the second time in club history.
"We hope to continue Haifa's long tradition of European success," Levy said. "We will do our best to make sure we record a good result and guarantee that the tie will be decided at National Stadium in Ramat Gan next week."
Haifa, which became the first Israeli team to reach the group stage in the 2002/03 season, will host Salzburg at Ramat Gan next Tuesday, as the club's Kiryat Eliezer ground does not meet UEFA criteria.
"We must remember that this tie will be determined over two legs. We have already secured our place in the group stage of the Europa League, but we want to play in the Champions League group stage," Levy added.
Levy, who wouldn't elaborate when asked about Salzburg, only agreeing to say that Haifa will be facing a good and organized team, is not concerned with his side's disappointing 1-1 draw against Hapoel Petah Tikva in the Toto Cup on Saturday.
"These matches can usually give you some sort of indication of where you stand, but I think that in this case it says nothing," Levy explained. "It was important for me to use the players who haven't seen much action lately and rest those who need a break."
Haifa was forced to train with a depleted squad last week due to its players' international duty, but Levy remains confident nevertheless.
"We only finally all came together on Sunday when the players returned from the different Israel teams, but on the face of it everyone is fit and that is the most important thing," Levy said.
"We are feeling good and we are expecting a tough match. I hope the Austrians have a difficult time as well. We will obviously give our all to advance."