hapoel tel aviv 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ahead of last week’s first leg of the Champions League second qualifying round
tie against FK Zeljeznicar, Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Eli Gutman spent much of his
pre-match press conference warning against complacency.
He spoke of how
well-organized the Bosnians are and complimented their attacking play. It is
difficult to tell if Gutman had exaggerated his sentiments, as Zeljeznicar
completely capitulated at Bloomfield Stadium, conceding five goals in 28 first
half minutes to lose 5-0.
Hapoel enters Wednesday’s second leg in
Sarajevo knowing only a true sporting disaster can deny it a place in
qualifying round, but Gutman still refuses to take anything for
“We have a significant advantage after the first leg, but I’m
not taking this match lightly,” said Gutman.
“This is a Champions League
match and a win is worth ranking points for the club and Israeli soccer.
treating this match very seriously and we will make sure the players are
focused.” Gutman’s players echoed his sentiment.
“We are not going on a
holiday,” said defender Omri Kende. “We will prepare for this match and
win it. It is true we have a good chance of advancing, but anything can
even after our 5-0 win.”
Goals by Maharan Lala and Yossi Shivhon within
two minutes gave Hapoel a comfortable cushion by the 12th minute of the
leg, with an own goal by Mirsad Beslija (28) and two more strikes by
38) completing the rout by the interval.
Gutman is expected to start with
the exact same lineup that played at Bloomfield, with Galil Ben-Shaanan
continue in goal in place of Vincent Enyeama, who will rejoin the team
training over the weekend.
Douglas da Silva and Walid Badier should start
in the center of defense, while Kende and Dedi Ben-Dayan will play on
and left of the backfour, respectively.
Gili Vermut, Eran Zehavi and
Avihai Yadin will take their place in the midfield once again, while
will be hoping to follow up on his dream debut with another impressive
With Hapoel closing in on the signing of Ben Sahar, Lala
will be aiming to prove his worth up-front by finding the net yet again,
Itai Shechter will be looking to score his first goal of the season
frustrating night in the first leg.
“We have forgotten what happened in
the first leg,” Shechter said. “This is a new match that can help us
confidence. Your next opponent always crosses your mind, but we need to
This is a Champions League game against the Bosnian
champion and everyone wants to play.”
Hapoel will also discover who it
next faces on Wednesday, as FC Olimpi Rustavi of Georgia tries to erase a
first-leg deficit when it hosts Kazakh champion FK Aktobe.
teammates, Zehavi has also taken Gutman’s team talks to heart, although
midfielder did agree to speak about Hapoel’s likely opponent in the
“Hapoel wants to win every match,” he said. “This
encounter will be a good preparation for the next round and we are
seriously. Aktobe is a good team, one which caused Haifa a lot of
season. We are all dreaming of reaching the group stage for the first
club history, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”