Soccer: Matthaus flies in to view his new club

Former German international to take over as Maccabi Netanya coach in July.

lothar matthaus 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
lothar matthaus 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Lothar Matthaus arrived in Israel on Sunday for the first time since signing as coach of Maccabi Netanya last month. The German legend will meet several times with club owner Daniel Jammer during his three-day visit, beginning the team's preparations for next season. "I will officially start my job in six or seven weeks, but we have plenty of work to do in the next 48 hours," Matthaus said on his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport. "We want to record the best possible results with the budget we have. We will try and find a way to finish better than second position." Matthaus will also meet former Netanya defender David Pizanti during his stay. Pizanti, who played at FC Koln during his career, is expected to work under the German. "I've known him for a long time. We are in contact and we will speak," was all Matthaus agreed to say on the matter on Sunday. Matthaus will replace Reuven Atar, who has guided Netanya to two straight second-place finishes. "I can understand he's not so happy," the former world player of the year said. "He did a very good job in the last two years and I hope I can follow him and do something a bit better." Netanya had a poor game against Betar Jerusalem on Saturday, losing 3-0 to the new league champion. The disappointment in Netanya's camp was overshadowed by Betar's championship celebrations, but clearly Atar had wanted more from the game. "We wanted to cement our second position, but things didn't go our way," Atar said. "This victory shows Betar is better than the entire league, not that this is something new. Our goal is to finish in second place. I hope the players learnt their lesson and will do better in the matches we have left." Matthaus reportedly has a release clause in his contract should a German club come calling and recent rumors have linked him with Hamburg. The 47-year-old, however, dispelled any such notion and said that he will respect his contract at Netanya. "People talk too much. This is all speculation," he said. "I came here to work for the club for the next two seasons. I love this country and I'm happy that I can be a part of this place." Netanya put on a special cocktail party in honor of Matthaus on Sunday night and on Monday the 1990 World Cup winner will hold his first press conference in Israel with Jammer.