Sakhnin to host Deportivo La Coruna

The Spanish side will be a far tougher opponent for Sakhnin in Intertoto Cup 3rd round on Saturday.

bnei sakhnin in goal 88 (photo credit:)
bnei sakhnin in goal 88
(photo credit: )
Bnei Sakhnin will be looking to claim one of the biggest wins in its history at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Saturday when it hosts Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna in the first leg of the Intertoto Cup third round. After easily overcoming Macedonians FK Renova with victories both home and away in the second round, Sakhnin comes up against a far tougher opponent in the final round of the Intertoto Cup from which the winner will advance to the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. Sakhnin, which finished last season in fourth position, lost two of its best players in the summer, with Maor Buzaglo and Ilya Yavruyan both signing for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Tal Hen and Mazuwa Nsumbu joined the team from Hapoel Tel Aviv and will both likely start on Saturday. "Obviously weren't the favorites, but our goal is to advance," said Hen. "It's important that we build on what the club achieved last season." The Spanish giant has struggled in recent seasons, but still brought to Israeli the likes of former Spain internationals Juan Carlos Valeron and Mista. La Coruna, which played in the Champions League five straight seasons (2001-2005), reaching the semifinals in 2004, has failed to finish higher than eighth position in La Liga in the last four years. The team fought relegation for most of last season, but a late resurgence saw the team rise all the way to ninth place and clinch a berth in the Intertoto Cup. Israeli goalkeeper Dudu Awat was one of the keys to the side's good run at the end of last season, but he did not travel to Israel for the match against Sakhnin after coach Miguel Angel Lotina dropped him from the squad in the offseason. Awat and Lotina clashed midway through last season when the Israeli was inexplicably suspended from the team's squad after being attacked by fellow goalkeeper Gustavo Munua. Deportivo signed 'keeper Daniel Aranzubia to replace the Israeli, although Fabricio is expected to start on Saturday, and Awat has likely played his last match for the club. "Sakhnin is in much better shape than we are, so I hope we can keep up with them," said Deportivo captain Manuel Pablo before his team's departure for Israel. "Nevertheless, we're the favorites as we play in the Spanish league which is slightly stronger than the Israeli top flight."