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
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
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
“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
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.)