Hapoel Ta ben-dayan.
(photo credit: )
Hapoel Tel Aviv was placed in a tough group in Friday's draw in Monaco for soccer's rebranded UEFA Cup - the Europa League.
Eli Gutman's men were drawn in Group C with Scottish side Celtic, German club Hamburg and Austrians Rapid Vienna.
Hapoel drew 1-1 with FK Teplice in Thursday's playoff return leg at Bloomfield Stadium, completing a 3-2 aggregate victory to advance to the group stages of the competition.
Speaking to the Sport 2 television channel moments after Friday afternoon's draw, Gutman conceded that his team had been handed a difficult task, noting that in his opinion, Hamburg was a better team that Bayern Munich, the German side drawn in Maccabi Haifa's Champions League group.
"They are currently in second place in the league," he said. "I just saw them beat Wolfsburg, the champions, 4-2."
"It's a Champions League-level draw in every respect," he stressed, adding, however, that his team wouldn't be there just to make up the numbers, but "wants to win every game and advance."
Gutman said he was pleased that the draw was an "attractive" one for the Hapoel fans, who he called the "best in the [Israeli] league."
Meanwhile, UEFA Cup winner Shakhtar Donetsk was drawn against Club Bruges, Partizan, and Toulouse in a tough opening group stage of the inaugural competition.
Friday's draw also pitted four-time European Cup winner Ajax against Anderlecht, Dinamo Zagreb and little known Romanian team Timisoara.
The 48 sides - including the ten losing teams from the Champions League playoff round - were split into four seeding pots, with one seed from each going into the 12 groups. Teams from the same country association were kept apart.
AP contributed to this report