Bnei Yehuda vs FC Ulisses Preview
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.