UEFA Cup Soccer: K. Shmona confident of progress against Montenegran minnows

July 31, 2008 03:46
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Ironi Kiryat Shmona is in a positive mood ahead of its match in Montenegro against Mogren in the second leg of the UEFA Cup first qualifying round on Thursday. Despite conceding an away goal last week and only managing a 1-1 draw, Kiryat Shmona striker Yuval Avidor is certain his side will be in Friday's second qualifying round draw. "It will be a real shame if we don't advance because we're a much better team," Avidor said. "There's no reason why we shouldn't progress." Also on Thursday, only a remarkable collapse will deny Hapoel Tel Aviv from moving into the second qualifying round. Hapoel takes a 3-0 lead into its second leg match in San Marino against Juvenes/Dogana. Kiryat Shmona took an 18th minute lead against Mogren at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium last week, but the Montenegrins equalized eight minutes from time, taking advantage of the sending-off of captain Yaniv Lavi in the 24th minute of the encounter. Lavi is out of Thursday's match, but Abas Suan will return from suspension and will anchor the midfield. "We're feeling good and we hope to record a positive result," said midfielder Guy Tzarfati, who will be able to take up a more forward role thanks to Suan's return to the line-up. Hapoel Tel Aviv is treating its encounter against Juvenes/Dogana as a pre-season match and has decided to stay in San Marino over the weekend to train. "This short training camp will help us shape the team for the Premier League season," Hapoel coach Eli Gutman said. Gili Vermot, who joined Hapoel from Belgian club K.A.A. Gent on Tuesday, will not take part in Thursday's match and is expected to link up with the team on Friday. Vermot failed to break into Gent's line-up last season and chose to return to Israel to play regularly once more. "Vermot's signing is a pleasant surprise," Gutman said. "I didn't expect him to join the club. He's a very gifted player and gives the team more options." Gutman insisted that he's taking the second leg in San Marino seriously and that Hapoel will not underestimate Juvenes/Dogana. "From my experience in soccer I've learnt that if you don't take a team seriously you can be surprised and we don't want that to happen," he said. "This will not be a walk in a park and I'm not thinking of Friday's draw yet."

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