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Maccabi Haifa left for Bulgaria yesterday ahead of tomorrow's Champions League home leg encounter with Sturm Graz of Austria with two new/old players in tow.

The team will hold a training session at the CSKA Sofia ground in the capital where the match will be played.

Before their flight, the Greens trained in Kfar Sava where they welcomed back Nigerian striker Ayegbeni Yakoubu, who was unable to find a club in Europe after being refused a work permit in Britain where he had planned to join Derby County. Yakoubu will stay with Haifa at least until next January and he is eligible to play in European competition. He is expected to start in the lineup tomorrow in place of Yaniv Katan, who was disappointing in both his outings in the previous rounds against Belshina Bobruisk.

Another player welcomed back into the fold was goalkeeper Dudu Awat, whose transfer back to the club was secured yesterday morning. Awat played for Maccabi last season in place of Nir Davidovich, who re-injured his knee and will be out of action for an extended period once again.

Sturm, the Austrian outfit, will leave for Sofia this morning, accompanied by some 100 supporters. Another 140 supporters are expected to arrive separately. Graz are in relaxed mood for the tie and the news that the injury to their French star, Alain Masudi, is not serious has boosted their hopes of victory. Masudi is seen as a major factor in the Austrian team's chances for the tie.