A new-look Maccabi Haifa will take the pitch tonight in its Europa League third-round qualifier with Dinamo Minsk of Belarus.
Coach Elisha Levy will field no fewer than four new players at Haifa's Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, notably defender Ignacio Canuto and midfielder Adrien Silva. "We'll do everything we can to win, so that we can show up to the return leg with an advantage," Levy told reporters yesterday.
"We're coming in hungry," said captain Yaniv Katan. "We want to prove ourselves in this tournament. We shouldn't just go easy because this is the Europa League and not the Champions League. I believe in this team, even though we've lost some important players." Jorge Teixeira, Shlomi Arbeitman, Biram Kiyal and Dekel Keinan all left the Israeli runner-up this summer for the greener pitches of Europe.
The Belarusian side landed in Israel yesterday and held a training session at Kiryat Eliezer. As expected, the team arrived without its star Syarhey Kislyak, who is attending tryouts for Russia's Rubin Kazan.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv faces a far more intimidating third-round foe tonight, having arrived yesterday in Greece to face the venerable club Olympiacos.
Olympiacos coach Ewald Lienen told reporters yesterday, "one of things I've learned in soccer is that you must always respect your opponent, even if you're the favorite. In any case, Maccabi is a well-known name and the club is strong."
The German said he had watched Tel Aviv's second-round series against Montenegrin squad Mogren and was impressed by the Israelis' performance.
"Our goal is to control the center of the pitch, and of course to score. If we can't control the middle we'll have to try shooting from the flanks," he said.
Midfielder Albert Riera will be out of Olympiacos' lineup, as he was signed after the UEFA deadline.
Tamuz is Belgium-bound, Beitar sources say
Beitar Jerusalem sources said yesterday that Toto Tamuz would likely be transferred to Belgian side Germinal Beerschot by the end of the week. Tamuz, they said, had reached an understanding with Beitar chairman Itzik Kornfein that the Antwerp-based club would receive the striker for a transfer fee of 250-300,000 euros.
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