Bnei Yehuda is the first Israeli club to start off in European qualifying and they face their first test tomorrow in Yereven against Armenian club FC Ulisses. Bnei Yehuda fields a team that is relatively unchanged from last year although they are missing two key components in coach Guy Luzon and striker Eliran Atar. Atar transferred to giants Maccabi Tel-Aviv and will take his penchant for spectacular goals there. Guy Luzon landed a job working for his uncle Avi Luzon, as the coach of Israel’s U-21 team. His replacement Dror Kashtan is a seasoned veteran coach and led Hapoel Tel-Aviv to the last eight of the Uefa Cup in 2001. Kashtan last coached Israel’s national football team which didn’t qualify for the Euro’s or World Cup under his tenure. However Kashtan has had great success as a club coach and his talents will surely be an asset to the team. Bnei Yehuda made only two acquisitions this off season with the signing of free Bosman’s, Shalev Menashe and Pini Balili. Balili in his prime was a fixture in Israel’s National Football team, but has not featured for some time. Balili was known for his quickness although I don’t know if he has any left, and is more of a second striker. Menashe is an attacking midfielder, and was surprisingly not picked up by any of Israel’s bigger teams. He had a good season last year and should be a player to watch. We ran feature on him earlier here. Apart from those two players, Bnei Yehuda has a solid defense with upcoming defender Din Mori and his partner in crime Ivan Garrido. Attacking midfielder Pedro Galvan is also threat, and could come up big as he scored 12 goals last season. The young player to watch is Liroi Tzairi, who had an outstanding season last year. Bnei Yehuda nearly qualified for the Europa League group stage last year, but were drawn against PSV Eindhoven in the playoff round before the group stages and lost 2-0 on aggregate.
FC Ulisses are bit unknown to me and I was only able to find limited information on them. They are currently second in the Armenian league season, and finished third in the last season to qualify for the Europa League. Their leading scorer least season, Artur Kocharyan, had 15 goals in the Armenian League. I was able to find a few highlight videos on them including this one.
I just wanted to give a huge Thank You to everyone that reads this blog. The number of views has doubled from last month to go over Three Thousand! with a few days left. This has been another amazing month for this blog and Israeli Football. I might sound like a broken record, but the readers make it possible! Toda 🙂 Let’s go to my favorite song…
Hapoel Tel-Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, and Maccabi Tel-Aviv have all begun their respective training camps abroad in Europe. Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel-Aviv have decided on Austria as a training venue, while Maccabi Tel-Aviv have chosen the Netherlands as their preferred destination. All three teams are seeking to improve their sqauds being more active than others. So far Hapoel Tel-Aviv and Maccabi Haifa have played a friendly each. Hapoel Tel-Aviv played against Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala and lost 1-0. Anzhi scored from a free kick to win the game, but Hapoel dominated the game and had several chances to score. They play their next game against another Russian side in Amkar Perm. Hapoel have signed four players so far in Bevan Fransman, Yossi Shivhon, William Hazo, and Romain Rocchi. However Hapoel have let go of five players so far if you include defender Douglas Da Silva. However, there is speculation that Da Silva may still stay with Hapoel Tel-Aviv as he has yet to agree on terms for a contract with French club Lille. Meanwhile, Hapoel’s main rivals for the title last year, Maccabi Haifa also played a game against the Romanian side Dinamo Bucharest. Maccabi Haifa had several trialists in the game that they tied 1-1. Muhammad Ghadir scored the goal for Haifa. Ghadir was being watched by a scout from AC Milan according to a report from ONE. Georgian defender and trialist Guram Kashia was physically impressive, but was a bit lacking in pace. Latvian winger Andrejs Pereplotkins had a good showing and certainly helped his cause for making the team. New loan signing Adrien Silva looked to be in fine form as he had several good touches and looked good on the ball. Arik Benado had a decent game for Haifa, and should be a capable backup. Eyal Golasa and Biram Kiyal were both missing due to being in the IDFj for Golasa and having a broken nose for the latter. Haifa’s newest signing Idan Vered will come to Austria in a few days. Haifa plays its next friendly tomorrow against Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow. Maccabi Tel-Aviv held their first training session in the Netherlands today and will be joined by their ninth and newest signing Avi Strul. Expectations are high as Maccabi shelled out an astounding 4.6 Million dollars in transfer fees, which is a lot of money for Israel’s league. They will play in friendlies against PSV Eindhoven, Racing Genk, and Brondby. All three teams are hoping for a good domestic and European season, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Highlights of Maccabi Haifa’s game against Dinamo Bucharest can be seen below:
- Hapoel Tel-Aviv have signed Metz midfielder Romain Rocchi.
- Maccabi Tel-Aviv have made their ninth purchase of the offseason with the acquisition of Avi Strul.
- Maccabi Haifa are closer to purchasing Idan Vered with a bid of 1.2 million USD.
- Rami Gershon is on loan next season with KV Kortrijk in Belgium.
- Tal Ben-Haim is unlikely to move on to West Ham United as his wage demands are too high.
- Beitar Jerusalem wants to make their fourth signing of the offseason by signing Serge Ayeli.
- Avi Strool has come to terms with Maccabi Tel-Aviv and will sign with the club soon.
- Eran Levy has decided to play for Beitar Jerusalem next season.
- Hapoel Petach Tikva isn’t sure whether to sign Dudu Biton or Ilya Yavruyan.
- Nivaldo, Haris Medunjanin, and Albert Baning are all officially Maccabi Tel-Aviv players.
- Negotations between Idan Vered and Maccabi Haifa have come to a stand still.
- Maccabi Haifa have signed midfielder Adrien Silva of Sporting Lisbon on loan.
- Hapoel Be’er Sheva is still in negotiations with Haifa defender Shai Maimon.
- Hapoel Tel-Aviv have been linked with Bnei Sakhnin defender Ya Ya Petit.
- Hapoel Haifa have signed Serbian midfielder Sasha Stojanovic from Cyprus club Limassol.
- Eran Levy may decide to sign for Beitar Jerusalem instead of Hapoel Haifa.
- Maccabi Haifa are in negotiations with Dinamo Tiblisi defender Guram Kashia.
- Haris Medunjanin is expected to land in Israel tomorrow and join Maccabi Tel-Aviv in their training camp in Holland.
- New Ligat Ha’al club Ashkelon are interested in Hapoel Tel-Aviv pair Victor Mare and Shai Abutbul.
- John Culma is demanding that Maccabi Haifa release him after he found that Haifa is searching for a player to replace him.
- Vincent Enyeama has said there is a possiblity he could stay with Hapoel Tel-Aviv this season.
As soon as Hapoel Tel-Aviv won their game against Beitar Jerusalem and became Israeli Champions, their new focus should have been on signing new players to replace the ones that left after their title winning season. Hapoel’s greatest needs are at the center-back and foward positions as well as the need for a central midfielder to replace the previously departed Bibras Natcho. Hapoel play their first Champions League qualifying game against Bosnian club Željezničar on July 13/14 which means they don’t have that much time to sign new players. So far they have signed two attacking midfielders in Steven Cohen and Yossi Shivhon as well as center-back Bevan Fransman. However Hapoel still needs to find a replacement for the aging Walid Badeer who was often times shaky at the back last season. They also need a central midfielder and a forward. While Hapoel have put out feelers for several players including Bongani Khumalo and Ben Sahar, Hapoel has not been able to lineup the players they will need to qualify for the Champions league. Defense is key, as it helped Maccabi Haifa propel themselves to the Champions league last year. Hopefully Hapoel’s management will find a way to bring in the players the club needs.