KERKRADE, Netherlands - Maccabi Tel Aviv will play its UEFA Cup second round, first-leg against Roda JC Kerkrade this evening and hopes to end the game with a good result for the return leg at Bloomfield in two weeks.
Maccabi's players held their only training session at the brand new Parkstad arena yesterday and they know that they could not have hoped for a more comfortable rival at this stage if the competition. Roda is bottom of the Dutch league and has been unable to produce any kind of respectable form of late.
The same can be said for the Dutch team, however, who could use this clash to kick-start their season against one of the less fancied sides in the competition. Roda has good reason to be hopeful after its last clash with an Israeli club resulted in a bumper win for the them in-form side when it beat Hapoel Be'er Sheva 10-0 at home and 4-1 away in European competition four seasons ago.
Roda is not expecting a big crowd to turn out tonight for the match in the 20,000-seat stadium and no more than 6,000 local fans are expected, mainly because of the club's poor form. The game kicks off at 6 P.M. and will be shown live on Channel 5.
But despite the poor morale of the home team, Maccabi has no cause to feel favorite for the tie and Roda, led by former Belgian national team coach George Leekens, is planning an all-out attack on Liran Strauber's goal.
Maccabi arrived in Kerkrade, some 25kms from Maastricht in eastern Holland after an early morning flight to Dusseldorf. The only doubt for tonight is striker Baruch Dago, who still does not look as if he has recovered sufficiently from an injury to his left ankle.
He had rated his chances of playing tonight at 60 percent, but failed to complete the training session with the rest of the team yesterday. The injury to the player who scored several goals against European opponents could be a blow to Dago's morale and could affect hijs condfidence.
On a brighter note, however, Avi Nimni appears to be recovering from a short bout of flu after receiving intensive treatment from club and national team doctor Mark Rosnowsky.
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