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Hapoel TA 298.88.(Photo by: AP)
UEFA Cup: Coach-less and struggling, Hap TA faces Getafe
Allon Sinai
11/29/2007
Tel Aviv is bottom of the Premier League, after winning just one of its 10 matches to date, and has yet to collect a point or score a goal in its first two games in the UEFA Cup group stage.
Hapoel Tel Aviv's match against Getafe in Madrid on Thursday night couldn't have come at a worse time for the club. The coach-less team is desperately struggling on all fronts. Tel Aviv is bottom of the Premier League, after winning just one of its 10 matches to date, and has yet to collect a point or score a goal in its first two games in the UEFA Cup group stage. Embarrassing performances against Anderlecht and Tottenham both ended in 2-0 defeats, meaning Hapoel will be all but out of the competition should it fail to win on Thursday. The Israeli cup holder, however, is far more concerned with its grave situation in local league play and has already got one eye on its crucial match against Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Monday. "Every player wants to prove himself on the European stage, but with all due respect to Getafe, the match against Kiryat Shmona is far more important," midfielder Baruch Dego said. "Hapoel is going threw a tough period, but the players must work together to save the club." With no permanent replacement in place for Guy Luzon, who resigned from his job as coach on Sunday, fitness coach Ron Tziblin and scout Yossi Abuksis will guide the team in Spain. Tziblin has only coached two matches in the past, losing to Maccabi Petah Tikva in the Toto Cup when then head coach Dror Kashtan was away in Europe and falling to Hapoel Kfar Saba in the same competition after Itzhak Schum was too ill to attend the match. Abuksis has never guided a team and only retired from active play in the summer. "I'll be very happy if we don't lose," Tziblin said. "Our aim is to play a good game. The players know what to expect and I told them to do their best." Getafe, which is guided by former Denmark international Michael Laudrup, has only played one game in the group stage so far, defeating Tottenham 2-1 at White Hart Lane. The team has had an encouraging start in La Liga as well and is in 11th place after 13 matches. Getafe's biggest win of the season came three weeks ago, a 2-0 defeat of the star-studded Barcelona. One encouraging piece of news for Hapoel is that Getafe's dangerous striker Ikechukwu Uche will likely miss the match through injury. Forward Francisco Sousa, who could start in his place, was expectant ahead of the match.
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