Hapoel Tel Aviv leaves for Italy today, as it prepares to face Parma in the return leg of the UEFA Cup fourth round on Thursday. The team will hold a practice session at Bloomfield this morning and then leave directly for the airport to fly to Bologna, from where it will travel by bus to Parma, which is located about an hour's drive away.
Some 3,000 Hapoel fans are expected to be in the Tardini Stadium for Thursday's match and with the scores level at 0-0 following last Thursday's first leg, the Tel Aviv team knows that it is still in with a chance of causing an upset.
"Nobody thought that we had a chance in the previous rounds, but we got through. We are just as determined to do the job again this time," said veteran midfielder Yossi Abuksis.
"Parma is the undoubted favorite, but Hapoel Tel Aviv knows exactly how to take on its opponents. We will have plenty of fans in the crowd and we are sure that we will have a comfortable home-like feeling," he continued.
Parma coach Pietro Carmigniani is considering playing with a second-string lineup similar to the one that played at Bloomfield. All his players except for Luigi Sartor are fit, and captain Fabio Canavaro, regarded as one of the world's best defenders will take the field on Thursday.
The Italians held a relaxed training session yesterday, largely due to the team's 3-2 away victory over Piacenza on Sunday that greatly eased their relegation fears.
Two Hapoel players in the sights of Italian club Lecce are Shimon Gershon and Mialn Osterc. The two have been a target for the faltering Serie A club for a while, after Lecce received reports from various sources about their ability. Lecce coach Delio Rossi was at Bloomfield on Thursday to watch the two in action.
Lecce is floundering in the Serie A relegation zone, but any transfer would only take place next season. Hapoel is set to ask $1.5 million for Gershon. As for Osterc, his transfer will not net Hapoel any money as he will be out of contract at the end of the current season.
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