Cheeky Backheel Football Israel Podcast September 17 2014

Right click here to download The Cheeky Backheel Podcast from September 17, 2014

Roy Jankelowitz, reporter for Israel Sport and the man behind the fantastic Facebook Page HaShishit B’Europa joined me on the Cheeky Backheel Podcast to talk Football Israel!

Roy & The Sports Rabbi reviewed the Round One action as Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv & Maccabi Haifa all win! Sammy Ofer Stadium hosted it’s first Ligat Ha’Al match and we also review the Sabras Abroad!

Sabras Abroad Israeli Footballers Around The World Week of September 13-15 2014

Here’s a roundup of Israeli footballers playing abroad and how they fared the past weekend! Football Israel’s Sabra Abroad for this week is Omer Damari! Congratulations!

Monas Dabour- Swiss Super League, Grasshoppers- ASSISTED on 3rd goal & played 90+ minutes in 3-1 win over Basel

Avi Rikan- Swiss Super League, Zurich- ASSISTED on goal & played 90 minutes in 4-1 win over Sion

Kenny Seif- Beligian Jupiler, League Gent- SCORED the winning goal in 1-0 win over Mouscron-Peruwelz

Omer Damari- Austrian Bundesliga, Austria Wien- SCORED TWO goals in 3-1 win over Ried

Asael Ben Shabbat- Greece Super League, Kerkyra- Did not play v Veria

Eyal Golasa- Greece Super League, PAOK- Was not in squad for 3-0 win over Niki Volos

Toto Tamuz- Romania Liga 1, Petrolul- Played 90 mins in 1-1 draw with Pandurii

Roberto Colautti- Cyprus League, AEK Larnaca- SCORED a goal playing 67 mins in 2-1 loss to Anorthosis

Nir Biton- Scottish Premiership, Celtic- Played 19 mins in 2-1 win over Aberdeen

Beram Kayal- Scottish Premiership, Celtic- Played 28 minutes in 2-1 win over Aberdeen

Lotem Zino- Swiss Super League, Thun- Was not in squad for 2-1 loss to Aarau

Niso Capiloto- Swiss Super League, St. Gallen- Was not in squad due to injury for 2-2 draw with Vaduz

Rami Gershon- Belgian Jupiler League, Gent- Played 90 minutes in 1-0 win over Mouscron-Peruwelz

Idan Weitzman- Azerbaijan Premyer Liqa, Simurq- Did not play in 2-1 loss to Qabala

Tomer Hemed- Spain La Liga, Almeria- Played 85 minutes in 1-1 draw with Cordoba

Guy Assoulin- Spain Segunda Division, Mallorca- Was not in squad for 2-1 loss to Recreativo Huelva

Almog Cohen- 2. Bundesliga, Ingolstadt- Was not in squad for 4-1 win over Aalen

Tal Ben Haim- England Championship, Charlton- Played 90 minutes in 1-0 win over Watford

Dan Mori- Eredivisie, Vitesse- Was not in squad for 3-1 win over Excelsior

Ben Sahar- Eredivisie, Willem II- Played 90 minutes in 2-1 win over Feyenoord

Bibras Natcho- Russian Premier League, CSKA Moscow- SCORED penalty goal & an assist in 2-1 win over Arsenal Tula

Sintiyahu Sollalich- Slovenia League, Maribor- Played 90 minutes in 2-0 win over Krka

Dudu Biton- Slovenia League, Maribor- Played 21 minutes in his first match with the club in 2-0 win over Krka

Eliran Atar- France Ligue 1, Stade de Reims- Was not in squad for 2-0 win over Toulouse

Itay Schecter- France Ligue 1, Nantes- Played 24 minutes in 2-0 loss to Lille

Football Israel Ligat Ha’al Round 1 September 13-15

Beitar Jerusalem & Hapoel Beer Sheva draw as Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Petach Tikva 3-0 Sunday night & Maccabi Haifa played their first game at the new Sami Ofer Stadium in Haifa on Monday against Bnei Sakhnin!

Maccabi Haifa 4-2 Bnei Sakhnin

Maccabi Haifa opened their season off at the brand new Sammy Ofer Stadium with a 4-2 win over Bnei Sakhnin in front of a sold out crowd of 30K! The stadium atmosphere was unbelievable feeling like one was at the Juventus Stadium in Torino, Italy with supporter noise, flags and fun! Haifa didn’t have a great first half though Hen Ezra had the first league goal in the new stadium for Maccabi, but the club turned on the gas in half number 2 playing spectacular football and receiving goals from Ruben Rayos with a brace & Shimon Abuhetzira chipping in for one as well! Bnei Sakhnin goal scorers were Ioannis Papadopoulos & Ahmed Nayea but was just not enough.

Hapoel Beer Sheva 1-1 Beitar Jerusalem

Sometimes the trips down to the desert city are disappointing this one was not as Beitar picked up a well earned point against one of the top teams in the league. The Jerusalem side outplayed Beer Sheva for many stretches during the match with terrific play from youngster Lidor Cohen & Eli Dasa who were consistently making fine runs and creating opportunity after opportunity.

Beer Sheva scored a quick goal off a typical Maor Bozaglo free kick finding William Suarez coming in off the far side to knock the ball home to make it 1-0 after only 5 minutes. Beitar continued to press and their efforts finally paid off when Zarko Korac scored on a penalty in the 67th minute to even the match up.

Beitar continued to press on but couldn’t find the winning strike but left Wassermil stadium with one point in hand and a date with Maccabi Haifa next Monday night in Jerusalem where a crowd of over 25K supporters are expected to be on hand for the first home game of the season.

Maccabi Petach Tikva 0-3 Maccabi Tel Aviv

The champions began the year off with a convincing win at the Moshava Stadium Sunday night as Pako Ayestaran picked up his first win in the Ligat Ha’Al. Maccabi Tel Aviv is looking to win their third league championship in a row and after last night’s game their seems little to convince one that the results may be otherwise. Mahran Radi scored the 1st goal for the visitors as Eran Zahavi & Rada Prica also notched goals in the 2nd half of the match. Petach Tikva coach Ran Ben Shimon said after the game that his club was able to keep pace with the champions for the first half but then the experience of MTA took over.

Hapoel Tel Aviv 1-0 Maccabi Netanya 

Hapoel Tel Aviv started the season off on the right foot picking up a win in the first match of the season in the Ligat Ha’Al on an own goal in the 24th minute a Gili Vermut ball went in off of Romannian Cristian Sirghi. Ariel Harush had his maiden start for Netanya after spending his career with Beitar Jerusalem. Hapoel Technical Director Eyal Berkovic was pleased with the result as was coach Asi Domb as Reds management gave out tickets for the Lady Gaga performance later that evening in Ramat Gan to celebrate the victory!

Ashdod 0-0 Kiryat Shemona

Ashdod gave out free tickets to this match as the southern town was bombarded fors days us ring the Hamas war and unfortunately the fans got what they paid for. A lot of nothing. Yero Bello was issued a red card in the 38th minute while Alex Davidov received one in minute 87 as did Kiryat Shemona substitute Tuavo Pinas. Ashdod head coach Nir Klinger and his assistant Guy Tzarfati also were sent the stands by referee Eitan Shmuelivitz as both sides split the points.

Hapoel Akko 1-1 Hapoel Haifa

Hapoel Akko opened the year in front of 2800 fans where they witnessed Tzion Tzemach coming in as a 72nd minute substitute and scoring the tying goal just 1 minute later! But then the unthinkable happened as he went off in the 77th injured back to the bench. Hapoel Haifa had few chances and didn’t show much as they received their goal from a Mindaugus Kalonas penalty in the 59th minute.

Hapoel Raanana 4-0 Hapoel Petach Tikva

In a battle of the clubs who may be fighting to stay up and avoid relegation in Ligat Ha’Al Raanana put the absolute smack down on Petach Tikva drowning Hapoel 4-0. Snir Shuker, Emanuel Mbola, Eli Babayev & Thiam Mamadou. Anthony Nwakeme picked up two assists as he continues to shine for Raanana after a wonderful season last year. Hapoel Petavh Tikva have now given up 10 goals in their last two competitive matches.

Cheeky Backheel Football Israel Podcast September 11 2014

Right click here to download The Cheeky Backheel Podcast from September 11, 2014

Roy Jankelowitz, reporter for Israel Sport and the man behind the fantastic Facebook Page HaShishit B’Europa joined me on the Cheeky Backheel Podcast to talk Football Israel!

We previewed the upcoming season discussing who will be the surprises & who the disappointments! We also talked about ticket prices in the League along with the Under 21 team that were just eliminated form the UEFA Euro 2015 Tourney & the Senior Israel National Football team’s chances to make it into the UEFA Euro 2016!

Ligat Ha’al Season Preview 2014-15

Tal Ben Chaim after his game winning goal-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Tal Ben Chaim after his game winning goal-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Maccabi Tel Aviv went back to their recent past by flip/flopping head coaches from Paulo Sousa back to Oscar Garcia, however because of the war & professional reasons, Garcia departed during Europa League qualifying and was replaced Pako Ayestaran who had been coaching in Mexico. Ayestaran is a fitness guru and worked wonders under Rafa Benitez while winning a Champions League trophy under the legendary coach.

Maccabi picked up Israel international striker Eden Ben Bassat from French outfit Toulouse, plus they brought in former Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder Nosa Igiebor and defender Yuval Spungin to shore up the defense. Unfortunately for Maccabi the biggest question going into the season was where they would be playing in Europe. However, thaqt was answered when they were knocked out of both the Champions League & Europa League and will have to settle for just the Israeli league this season. Unfortunately for Maccabi the security situation didn’t allow the team to play it’s UEFA Champions League home matches in Israel and had to make do in Cyprus where the team faltered in front of sparse crowds.

Since Maccabi did not pass Asteras Tripolis in the two leg Europa League playoff, the domestic season will be a very tricky & long path to next year’s CL qualifiers. Maccabi also lost their owners representative in Jack Angelides to PAOK of Greece which could lead to technical director Jordi Cryuff following him to the northern Greek town of Thessaloniki. An interesting season for the blue & yellow await them with many returning stars in Eran Zahavi & Tal Ben Haim who can jump start the offense and lead the club to bigger & better heights.

Yossi Benayoun Comes back to Israel!

Yossi Benayoun Comes back to Israel!

Maccabi Haifa made the most changes of any Israel football club going into the 2014-15 season as they not only brought back international superstar Yossi Benayoun, they will also move into the brand new Sammy Ofer Stadium. Owner Yakov Shachar decided it was time to make some wholesale moves and brought in Serbian coach Alexsander Stoyenovich, giving him free reign to do as he pleases with the roster he inherited.

The first move was to purge the club of iconic captain Yaniv Katan and bring in the aforementioned Benayoun to lead the way for the Greens. Striker Mamadou Idrissou, keeper Vladimir Stoyakovich, Koby Moyal were all brought in as well as loaned out striker Weam Amasha & budding youngster Muhamed Calibat from Bnei Sakhnin. With all of these moves and the opportunity to play in a world class facility with close to 15k season tickets sold, Shachar’s investment looks to have an opportunity to pay off some nice dividends.

Beitar Jerusalem

Beitar Jerusalem

Beiter Jerusalem and owner Eli Tabib made many changes this off season and brought in the likes of Lidor Cohen, Zev Haimowitz, Mor Shaked, Hanan Maman, Cesar Arzo, striker Zarko Korac & Claudimir Perreira. However the biggest change will be between the pipes on goal with National team keeper Ariel Harush being released and Hapoel Tel Aviv up & coming Boris Kleyman coming in his place.

The moves that Beitar made would make one think that they had a team to battle for the upper playoffs and a positive season, but history unfortunately repeats itself and it wouldn’t surprise me if management & supporters clashed once again. That is the result that everyone wants to avoid, but may just be unavoidable.

Hapoel Tel Aviv fans-Courtesy Hapoel Tel Aviv Website

Hapoel Tel Aviv fans-Courtesy Hapoel Tel Aviv Website

Hapoel Tel Aviv went through a slew of changes in the offseason, most notably appointing former Israeli star Eyal Berkovic as their technical director. However, the financial situation at Hapoel has put Berkovic under a ton of pressure as he tried to cut salaries, sell off players and also keep the team from totally purging all of its talent.

The Reds were still able to bring in Haifa youngster striker Shoval Gozlan who can be a nice spark plug & Nigerian Harmony Ikande, but lost superstar goal scorer Omer Damari to Austria Wien as well as Besart Abdurahimi & others. Coach Asi Domev may be in for a long season ahead of him.

Hapoel Beer Sheva is coming off a drama season and made a number of solid offseason moves by bringing in Israel National team players Shlomi Arbeitman & Maor Melikson back from Europe. Also added was Nigeria midfielder John Ogu who was signed for 4 years and will add a dimension to the club that they did not previously have. The problem for Beer Sheva is the departure of Dutch striker Glynor Plet who scored many a goal for the southern club. Moar Bozaglo & Elyaniv Barda will remain factors and help in Beer Sheva’s continued rise to the top.

Hapoel Kiryat Shemona continues to be the little engine that could as they surprised the Israel football world once again with an appearance in the UEFA Europa League 3rd round playoffs. Coach Barak Bechar knows how to press all the right buttons and will need to do so again if he wants to see his club co tine with its strong form from over the past few seasons. The tam made very few changes this summer and will look to star Achmed Abed to shoulder the load with plenty of opportunities that will fall on his shoulders.

Maccabi Netanya returns to the Ligat Ha’Al after one season in the Leumit with veteran coach Yossi Mizrachi manning the sidelines and a reenergized striker Eran Levy who will play a central role. Being able to play in the relatively new Netanya Stadium in front of terrific supporters one would not be surprised if the team makes it into the upper playoffs this year.

Ashdod made few moves to bolster their club and poor form has been plaguing Nir Kilnger’s preseason campaign. 19 year old Michael Ohana will play an integral role on this club’s fortunes as will the other youngsters Ofer Varta, Gadi Kinda & Ofir Marciano. Owner Jackie Ben Zaquen has invested a lot of money into the club’s development system by opening an academy a few years ago and the fruits of this labor may begin to start bearing a difference on the league.

Hapoel Akko is looking to coach Alon Harazi for guiding the club through this coming year as central defender Eddie Gotlieb will be given center stage to show his potential after being a stalwart on the U21 National Team. Signing Emir Hadzerich was a stroke of brilliance and if Hamdi Salihi can produce in a full year what he did over a half a season last year, Akko may be a real treat to watch.

Hapoel Raanana was a great story for the league last year with Nigeria’s Anthony Nwakaeme becoming a star in the making. But with very little roster movement coach Haim Silvas may have a very tough time trying to stay up in Israel’s top division.

Bnei Sakhnin brought in coach Guy Levy who has had mixed results at every stop he has made in his Israel coaching career and the loss of star Muhamed Calibat who went back to his parent team Maccabi Haifa will not help out matters. Goalkeeper Mahmud Kandil will have to be an absolute star for the club if they are to be any factor in the upcoming season.

Hapoel Haifa brings in former Greens star Reuven Atar as their new bench boss along with Canadian striker Tosaint Ricketts who may be the key to Hapoel’s success this year if the preseason matches can play out in real time. Many players came and went this summer as ever dominant owner Yoav Katz tries to find a winning formula to propel his side into a threat to make it into the top 6 clubs in the league.

Hapoel Petach Tikva moves up a league to rejoin the Ligat Ha’Al as Maccabi Tel Aviv/Fulham loan product Omri Altmann joins the fray under coach Idan Bar-On. Hapoel also picked up Shachar Hirsch, veteran ‘keeper Kale Dreshler, Guy Dayan & others. This club may be the surprise of the year.

Maccabi Petach Tikva under new coach Ran Ben Shimon will be an interesting club this year bringing in veteran defender Dedi Ben Dayan, Hasan Abu Zeid, Nikolas Falshuk & US product Bryan Gerzicich while losing a number of players including Lidor Cohen. The Luzon family team will probably be fighting to stay up in the league by the end of the season giving Ran Ben Shimon another not so easy task since departing Kiryat Shemona 3 years ago.

Football Israel Cheeky Backheel Podcast September 4 2014

Right click here to download The Cheeky Backheel Podcast from September 4, 2014

Roy Jankelowitz, reporter for Israel Sport and the man behind the fantastic Facebook Page HaShishit B’Europa joined me on the Cheeky Backheel Podcast to talk Football Israel!

We talked about the Israeli football clubs European adventures from Maccabi Tel Aviv failing to advance to the UEFA Champions or Europa League to Hapoel Tel Aviv, Hapoel Beer Sheva & Kiryat Shemona. Also on tap was some of the moves Maccabi made in the offseason plus Israel National Team action!

Israel Football Starting Anew

Spring training, preseason, practice or however you want to call it, last night’s Toto Cup derby match between Hapoel Tel Aviv & Maccabi Tel Aviv had the atmosphere of a regular season Ligat Ha’Al derby. After a long summer of Hamas missile attacks on Israel & the IDF operation Protective Edge in and around the Gaza Strip both of the team’s supporters, players and media members were more than happy to be back at Bloomfield Stadium watching and analyzing the beginning of a new season.

While we’re on the subject of new beginnings it was exactly 10 years ago that I picked myself up with two boys ages 4 & 8 months (my wife had come 3 weeks earlier by herself as she needed to begin work) and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to start our new life in Israel.

Who knew that 10 years later I would be sitting in the press box as a member of the media covering the Israel Football League for my website If you would have asked me then, I would’ve thought it was a crazy thought one that would never happen in a billion years, but yet here I am living the dream. Living the dream of not only residing in The State of Israel but also the dream of being part of the fabric of Israeli society with people who grew up watching, cheering & rooting for their favourite teams, just as I did in Montreal with the Canadiens & Expos.

My children are now growing up following Israeli sports from football to basketball, from tennis and more, devouring the Yediot Acharonot newspaper sports section at breakfast each morning before heading to school, to watching the sports news and surfing the web trying to find out the latest bits of relevant information.

They collect football stickers of their heroes just as I did with baseball & hockey cards. They get their hands on the latest Goal! or Match! Magazine, clipping the posters and hanging their stars all over their walls, just as I once did. Everything is the same yet everything is so different.

Just as the players were rough around the edges on the pitch, missing open goals, not being able to make the crisp passes as they would mid-season, but it was a start, a new beginning one which had been longed for over the last few difficult months.

Fallen IDF soldiers were Hapoel Tel Aviv supporters-Courtesy Hapoel Tel Aviv Website

Fallen IDF soldiers were Hapoel Tel Aviv supporters-Courtesy Hapoel Tel Aviv Website

Before the match began Hapoel Tel Aviv honored four fallen soldiers who had been supporters of the club. As I sat in the press box, just below me was a teenager holding a jersey framed with his late brother’s name on it. A reminder that life is too fragile, life can take many turns, for the better or for the worse.

The realities in Israel are so much different than they are where I grew up in North America. Our country lives under constant threat from it’s not so friendly neighbors. Our children will serve in the army proudly defending our country, the only one we have. We have no choice.

We fight to live, whereas our enemies live to fight, that is the fundamental difference.

But children filled the stands, as singing continued throughout the 90+ minutes. The mood was a festive one with new Maccabi coach Pako Ayestaran manning the sidelines for the league champions whom had just been eliminated from European competition.

Tal Ben Chaim after his game winning goal-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Tal Ben Chaim after his game winning goal-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Lots of chances for both sides littered the first half of play as Maccabi came out of the gate very strong but Hapoel controlled the last 15 minutes or so of the half. It was clear that the players were still getting into playing shape as the near misses will be put into the back of the goal later on in the season. The second half saw more end to end action with Tal Ben Haim finally breaking the deadlock and scoring a magnificent goal to put the visitors up 1-0. And that’s when the fun started.

Dani Amos picks up a red card!-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Dani Amos picks up a red card!-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

The Reds embattled ‘keeper Dani Amos picked up a foolish red card after the goal for pushing & shoving a Maccabi player and headed for the showers bringing in second choice Tom Almondon and reducing Hapoel to ten men.

Hapoel Tel Aviv fans-Courtesy Hapoel Tel Aviv Website

Hapoel Tel Aviv fans-Courtesy Hapoel Tel Aviv Website

More opportunities for both sides kept coming but in the end Maccabi picked up the Toto Cup victory with a close 1-0 win that sent all the fans home happy. Yes even the losing side Hapoel’s supporters left upbeat, knowing that in truth they had won too.

Pako Ayestaran manning the Maccabi sidelines-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Pako Ayestaran manning the Maccabi sidelines-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

At the postgame press conference new Maccabi boss Pako Ayestaran was asked what he was able to take from the match and he clearly said, “The best thing we can take out of this game is the atmosphere.”

Football had won. Football was back.

Maccabi Tel Aviv Correcting The Mistakes

Maccabi v Asteras Scoreline-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Maccabi v Asteras Scoreline-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Maccabi Tel Aviv crashed out of Europe last night going home on aggregate with Asteras Tripolis 3-3, though Maccabi won the “home” leg 3-1, but lost the away match 2-0 in Greece. With Maccabi not making it through to the UEFA Europa League group stages, there will be no Israeli representatives in any of the European Competitions this season. After Maccabi had won the domestic league title for the second straight year, this coming campaign with returning head coach Oscar Garcia was supposed to be an opportunity to better their Europa League knock out round appearance last year when they were defeated by Basel FC.

Unfortunately it was not to be as Maccabi Tel Aviv never quite had the chance to do so for many reasons, none more important than the 50 day war between Hamas terrorists in Gaza and Israel. The conflict sent all of Israel’s European representatives to Cyprus in order to play their “home” games in front of very few fans. Is this the biggest reason for their failure? Yes. Is this the only reason for their failure? Absolutely Not.

Jordi Cryuff-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Jordi Cryuff-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Going into technical director Jordi Cryuff’s third year at Maccabi, hopes were running high as the squad under last year’s head coach Paulo Sousa played at even a higher level than they did in Cryuff’s first year when Oscar Garcia was at the helm. With Garcia coming back after a year at Brighton in the English Championship the stage was set for the Spaniard to direct the club he began shaping a year earlier into the UEFA Champions League. A chance to take the Israeli side a step closer to becoming a European power similar to it’s basketball compatriot would not be an easy task but one Cryuff & Garcia thought he would be able to navigate.

But then it all started to go wrong.

Jack Angelides-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Jack Angelides-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Cryuff in the past had been able to bring in quality players during the summer & winter transfer periods but was unable to pick up a game changing player as qualification grew near. At the same time owner Mitch Goldhar’s representative, Cypriot Jack Angelides left to become president of PAOK in Greece, leaving a huge vacuum that had been the strong arm behind Maccabi. Without Angelides’ presence behind the scenes there was a lack of direction that Cryuff would have to contend with himself.

Eden Ben Basat-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Eden Ben Basat-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Though Cryuff was able to bring in Israeli striker Eden Ben Basat from Toulouse and midfielder Nosa Igiebor from Real Betis it happened very late in the game for Coach Garcia to really implement his methodical offense. The Israeli international and former Hapoel Tel Aviv man respectively, arrived just in time for the Champions League 3rd round qualification matches against Maribor and never had a chance to fit into the team and direction that Garcia was preaching.

Not only were the additions made late in the game, but unfortunately, Cryuff was unable to bring in a top foreign player that could have made a true impact in Maccabi’s fortunes and when the war really started up there was almost zero chance that a top level player would come to Israel.

Maccabi Suppoters in Cyprus-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Maccabi Suppoters in Cyprus-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Getting back to the war, with no real home games in Tel Aviv and having to play in Cyprus only a few hundred supporters made the trek to see Maccabi and though they may have cheered at 120% it would never be enough compared to 13-14k at a raucous Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. Yes, the 12th man does make a huge difference in aiding a club and that fact can not be discounted. Not only did that play a factor but also that the team had to train when in Tel Aviv under constant air raid sirens going off that can assuredly not be conducive in preparing for some of the most important matches of the year.

Oscar Garcia-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Oscar Garcia-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

As well, Garcia, who had been worried two years earlier during the Amud Anan operation which set off sirens in the Tel Aviv area and had been pressured by his family then to leave Israel could not give 100% of his abilities during this current campaign.

One can say he was earning a lot of money and as a professional he should have stuck it out and not abandoned his team by leaving for the second time in a 15 month period, but reality is that family for a foreigner in a country of conflict is going to be more important than his sticking around feeling queasy. Was this the only reason he left? No, there are reports that he had some disagreements over player personnel and was upset with Angelides moving on, plus some opportunities in England opened up that weren’t available earlier in the year, but the war was certainly a huge factor, and one can’t blame him for that.

But at the end of the day, along with all the issues above, Jordi Cryuff made one huge, glaring mistake in the whole process by going back in time. More often than not, you can never recreate the magic that existed in the past and in the case of Maccabi taking Oscar Garcia back, this move was going backwards and not forwards.

We know that Cryuff and Garcia are close and Jordi’s comfort level with Garcia is key, however, this error to me was perhaps the biggest mistake in a reign that has been almost error free.

Jordi, Oscar & Jack-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Jordi, Oscar & Jack-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

One could see that under Garcia this time around Maccabi looked sluggish and not as crisp as they did last season under Sousa or the year before when Garcia had been the bench boss. Garcia laid the foundation with Cryuff and Sousa proved to be a most worthy replacement one that was able to take Maccabi to the next level both on and off the pitch.

Once it was clear that Sousa was leaving Cryuff had to think about who would be able to take the club to further heights with another chance to make it into the Champions League, but settled on comfort rather than confidence. It seems he has now corrected this wrong by bringing in Pako Ayestaran who worked for many years under Rafa Benitez and is a brilliant football mind both in physical and mental development but will have to wait yet another year to get another crack at Europe.

With that in mind the question will now be which players if any move from Maccabi to other clubs in a Europe. Who will stay and who will go. Could ‘keeper Juan Pablo be on his way out after some weak efforts thus far? Certainly as Israel National team keeper Ariel Harush is available. Helsinki has already made a move to pick up Rada Prica for their Europa League run and Paulo Sousa & Basel have never hidden their desire to bring in top midfielder Eran Zahavi.

Pako Ayestaran-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Pako Ayestaran-Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

The club Ayestaran saw taken out by Asteras may not be the same squad he inherits when the Israel Football Season starts in 2 weeks, but he will certainly have one of the better equipped teams in Israel with only Maccabi Haifa & Hapoel Beer Sheva being rivals for the Champions League 2nd round qualification spot.

In what could be Jordi Cryuff’s final season at Maccabi it would be prudent for owner Mitch Goldhar to begin the process of continuation for the day after in order to ensure that the yellow and blue don’t fall back further in time once the year ends. Could Ayestaran be the man to guide Maccabi on and off the pitch for years to come? Potentially yes. But the jury is still out as he has yet to be formally introduced as Maccabi’s new coach. As they say, only time will tell.

Puma Israel And Beitar Jerusalem Join Forces

Beitar Jerusalem's New Kits!

Beitar Jerusalem’s New Kits!

Yesterday Beitar Jerusalem unveiled their brand new kits manufactured by Puma at their season opening press conference at the VIEW celebration hall in Talpiot! The club move to Puma as the Puma brand has made strives in the past few years to increase their visibility in the football market. This year Puma will also be producing English Premier League outfit Arsenal kits and training wear along with the Italy National Team and Borussia Dortmund among others.

Menachem Koretzky, Beitar Jerusalem's new coach

Menachem Koretzky, Beitar Jerusalem’s new coach

The opening event also introduced Menachem Koretzky as Beitar Jerusalem’s new coach along with new signing Hannan Maman. Owner Eli Tabib who also maintains a residence in Miami, Florida spoke for a few minutes on the importance of the club building from the foundation up and of course about their new relationship with Puma.

Guy Denman, head of Puma Israel also spoke at the festive event and The Sports Rabbi spent a couple of minutes with Mr. Denman whose family originally hails from Argentina talking about this monumental happening!

Yalla Beitar!

Cheeky Backheel Podcast June 24 2014

Right click here to download The Cheeky Backheel Podcast from June 24, 2014

Roy Jankelowitz, reporter for Israel Sport and the man behind the fantastic Facebook Page HaShishit B’Europa joined me on the Cheeky Backheel Podcast to talk Football Israel!

On tap were the signings of Eyal Golasa with Paok, will this mean Eran Zahavi will leave? Israelis Abroad, rumours & more! We also talked about Israeli clubs about to emabrk on their European adventures both for UEFA competitions & training camps! And lastly we discussed the World Cup thus far!