MACCABI TEL AVIV coach Paulo Sousa 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv was handed the one opponent it was hoping to avoid in the
Champions League second qualifying round draw on Monday, being paired with
Hungarian champion Gyori ETO at UEFA headquarters in Nyon,
Maccabi, which won its first Israeli championship after 10
barren years last season, was seeded in the draw and could have faced the likes
of Hafnarfjördur of Iceland or Fola Esch of Luxembourg.
yellow-andblue’s progress to the third qualifying round is far from a given
against Gyori, which ended a 30-year wait for the Hungarian top-flight title
last season, clinching the championship with three matches to spare.
first leg between the two sides will be played in Hungary on either the 16th or
17th of July, with the return leg a week later in Israel.
“It’s a very
tough draw against a strong side I know quite well. Gyori has had the same coach
at the helm for the past three years and he has succeeded in molding the club to
his brand of football,” new Maccabi coach Paulo Sousa told the club’s official
“I look forward to returning to the country where I coached
Videoton for two seasons and I hope the success I achieved there will provide
the impetus to qualify for the next round.”
After spending short stints
at QPR, Swansea City and Leicester City in the English Championship, the
42-year-old Sousa moved on to then-Hungarian champion Videoton in the 2011/12
season. He ended his only full season at the club in the runners-up position
before guiding the team to the Europa League group stage at the start of the
Four months later in January of this year he left the
club, stating personal reasons.
“We have the greatest respect for our
opponents and we’ll be getting started right away with studying the club so we
can prepare ourselves properly,” added Maccabi’s sports director, Jordi
Should Maccabi overcome Gyori it will at least guarantee itself a
place in the final playoff round of the Europa League, even if it fails in the
third qualifying round of the Champions League. In order to reach the group
stage, Tel Aviv will need to come through the third qualifying round and the
play-offs without being seeded.
Maccabi’s top scorer from last season,
Eliran Atar, completed his move to French club Stade de Reims on Monday and Tel
Aviv doesn’t plan to wait long to acquire a replacement.
Hapoel Tel Aviv
striker Tal Ben-Haim emerged as a surprise candidate to fill Atar’s shoes on
Monday. The yellowand- blue will have to strike a deal with Maccabi Petah Tikva,
which will receive 75 percent of the proceeds from Ben-Haim’s next
The draw for the Europa League second qualifying round was also
made on Monday, with Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv both receiving relatively
Haifa will play the winner of the first qualifying
round tie between Sliema Wanderers of Malta and Khazar Lankaran of
“We will make the most of the fact that both teams will be
playing each other to learn all we can about them,” Haifa coach Arik Benado told
the club’s website.
Striker Shimon Abu Hazeira completed his transfer
from Ironi Kiryat Shmona to Haifa on Monday, signing a four-year
Hapoel will face Beroe Stara Zagora of Bulgaria in the second
qualifying round, playing on the road in the first leg on July 18 before hosting
the return leg a week later.
“As far as I’m concerned any draw we would
have been given would have been tough,” said Hapoel coach Ran Ben-Shimon. “Our
big challenge is to turn Hapoel into a strong side which will be able to handle
all the challenges it faces.”
Hapoel Ramat Gan, which won the State Cup
last season after being relegated to the National League, will begin its Europa
League campaign in the third qualifying round.