Yellow-and-blue retools for new campaign

Ivic back on the Mac TA sidelines, while Van Overeem signing headlines on-pitch improvements

  VLADIMIR ‘VLADAN’ IVIC (left) and Mitch Goldhar (right) hope to replicate their past success together at Maccabi Tel Aviv, with the Canadian owner excited to bring back the Serbian coach to lead the yellow-and-blue again. (photo credit: MACCABI TEL AVIV/COURTESY)
VLADIMIR ‘VLADAN’ IVIC (left) and Mitch Goldhar (right) hope to replicate their past success together at Maccabi Tel Aviv, with the Canadian owner excited to bring back the Serbian coach to lead the yellow-and-blue again.
(photo credit: MACCABI TEL AVIV/COURTESY)

Maccabi Tel Aviv FC officially put up the “under construction” sign this week as management began to build the team for the upcoming season.

With training camp opening next week, the yellow-and-blue appointed new/old head coach Vladimir “Vladan” Ivic as its bench boss, with the Serbian signing a two-year deal to return to the site of arguably his greatest success on the sidelines.

The now 45-year old first arrived at Kiryat Shalom in the summer of 2018 and helped the club win the 2018/19 Israel League title by a 31-point margin while also capturing the Toto Cup. The following season saw Ivic duplicate his success by again taking home the domestic competition’s championship before departing for England in the summer of 2020 as he took over the reins at Watford until he was relieved of his duties in December of that year.

Since Ivic’s first term with Maccabi, the club had a number of managers step into his shoes, including Georgios Donis, Patrick van Leeuwen and Mladen Krstajic as well as Head of Football Department Barak Itzhaki on an interim basis. However, none were able to replicate the long-term success that Ivic saw during his two years in charge.

While Maccabi did win the State Cup, Toto Cup and Super Cup during Ivic’s time away from the team, the club finished in second place during the 2020/21 campaign and a disappointing third place in 2021/22.

 The winners of the Israel State Cup, Hapoel Beersheba, are seen after their victory over Maccabi Haifa, in Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, on May 24, 2022. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO) The winners of the Israel State Cup, Hapoel Beersheba, are seen after their victory over Maccabi Haifa, in Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, on May 24, 2022. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

One area in which the yellow-and-blue did succeed was on the European stage, where it participated in the UEFA Europa League group stages and advanced to the round-of-32 in 2020/21 along with taking part in the brand-new UEFA Conference League and making it into the knockout stages of the competition.

In Ivic’s previous tenure with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the club was eliminated in the earlier stages of the Europa League, and finding a way into the group stages will certainly be a goal in his current term with the yellow-and-blue.

“I am looking forward to the challenge and I am focused on working hard to achieve our targets,” Ivic told the club’s official website after it was announced that he will return to Maccabi.

Owner Mitch Goldhar also spoke about bringing Ivic back into the fold.

“I look forward to working closely with Vladan again. I am confident that he and his staff will bring the focus and work ethic necessary to succeed.”

Ivic’s coaching staff will see the return to Tel Aviv of Milos Veselinovic and Christos Kelpekis, who were both part of the club during his first term, and they will be joined by two new additions in Sinisa Gogic as second assistant coach and Pavlos Gotsis as fitness coach.

Joris van Overeem

Immediately after Ivic’s appointment, the signing of Dutch star Joris van Overeem was announced and the midfielder signed a three-year contract with the club after having played with Utrecht in Holland since 2018.

“I am happy to arrive in Tel Aviv and join Maccabi – the biggest club in Israel,”

Joris van Overeem

Van Overeem is the son of an Israeli mother, which will allow him to play as an Israeli and not as a foreigner, thereby keeping slots open for imports with the goal of strengthening the club.

The 28-year old grew up in AZ Alkmaar’s youth system and made 27 appearances last season across all competitions for Utrecht. Back in the 2016/17 season van Overeem played against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Europa League action as a member of AZ.

“I am happy to arrive in Tel Aviv and join Maccabi – the biggest club in Israel,” van Overeem said to the club’s website. “My ambition at Maccabi is to win as many titles as we possibly can. I am looking forward to playing in front of Maccabi’s fans at Bloomfield Stadium.”

Maccabi will be heading out of the country for a training camp in Mierlo, Holland, where it will play a trio of friendly matches with two of the opponents already determined – Alemannia Aachen from the fourth division in Germany on June 29 and KVC Westerlo from the top league in Belgium on July 2.

The third match will take place on July 5 or 6 and will be a final warmup ahead of the club’s opening match of the 2022/23 campaign against Maccabi Netanya on July 14 in Toto Cup play.

A week later, the yellow-and-blue will begin its UEFA Conference League qualification in the second round against Zira FK from Azerbaijan.

Zira, which was founded in 2014 is a relative newcomer to continental soccer and will be participating in European qualifiers for only the second time in franchise history. The last time it took part in European qualifying was in the 2017/18 season, when it was eliminated in the second round of the Europa League.

In related news, Maccabi Haifa was drawn to play against Greek powerhouse Olympiacos in Champions League second-round qualifying in what will be an extremely difficult test for the Greens.

Olympiacos is a frequent participant in European play, either featuring in the Champions League or Europa League group stages for the last 11 years in a row.

Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Netanya will also play in the Conference League qualification round, with Beersheba to face the winner of the Dinamo Minsk-FK Decic first-round tie and Netanya to duel with Istanbul Basaksehir.