Soccer / Israeli Clubs Draw Weak Opponents

The draw for the first two qualifying rounds of next season's EUFA competitions left three Israeli clubs with fairly easy opponents that - at least on paper - they should beat. Maccabi Haifa will face Northern Ireland champion Glentoran in the second qualifying round of the Champions League. In the new Europa League, which replaces the UEFA Cup format, Bnei Yehuda will take on Simurq Zagatala of Azerbaijan in the first qualifying round, while Maccabi Netanya drew Maltese club Sliema Wanderers in the second qualifying round.

Bnei Yehuda will be the first Israeli club to appear in Europe, playing its away leg on July 2 and the home leg on July 9. If it gets by the Azerbaijanis it will advance to the second round and join Netanya, which plays its first match on July 16 in Malta and the home leg on July 23. Haifa's match dates have yet to be finalized - the Premier League champions will play either July 14 or 15 at home and in Northern Ireland a week later.