Barda out to stop Mac­cabi

The Jewish Chronicle - - Sport - BY SI­MON GRIVER

Mac­cabi Haifa will have to keep out Is­rael striker Elyaniv Barda if they are to ce­ment their place in the group stages of this sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League.

Haifa will host Bel­gian cham­pi­ons Genk next Wed­nes­day in the play­off round as the Greens seek to reach the lu­cra­tive group stage for the third time in their his­tory.

The Is­raeli cham­pi­ons have signed nine­play­ers­dur­ingth­e­sum­mer­in­clud­ing hold­ing mid­fielder Tamir Co­hen, who joined on a free trans­fer from Bolton ear­lier this week.

Elisha Levi, the Haifa man­ager, said: “Genk are a strong side but we have put to­gether a very strong squad and I be­lieve we can go through.

“With the crowd be­hind us in Is­rael, we must take a lead to Bel­gium and I be­lieve we will com­plete the job there.”

The­match­has­beenswitched­toRa­mat Gan na­tional sta­dium so that Haifa can max­imise gate re­ceipts against the Bel­gians, who in­clude Barda.

Barda said: “I was re­ally an­noyed when I heard the draw. This is the worst pos­si­ble draw for both teams be­cause I think both of us are good enough to reach the group stage.”

With a more ex­pen­sive squad, Genk will start as favourites, even though Haifa were seeded in the strong half of the draw.

How­ever, the Bel­gians lack Euro­pean ex­pe­ri­ence and have been rocked by the de­par­ture of man­ager Frank Ver­lauteren to UAE cham­pi­ons Al Jazira.

In the Europa League play­offs, Hapoel Tel Aviv will travel to Lithua­nia to play Ekranas in the first leg next Thurs­day af­ter beat­ing Vaduz of Liecht­en­stein 6-1 on ag­gre­gate.

Mac­cabi Tel Aviv will face a much sterner test against Greek pow­er­house Panathi­naikos who beat Zel­jeznicar Sara­jevo 8-0 on ag­gre­gate.

Bnei Ye­huda were un­able to hold on to their first leg ad­van­tage, go­ing down 3-1 on ag­gre­gate against Swedish cham­pi­ons Hels­ing­borgs.

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