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Maccabi mix it up in hunt for elusive title

Published: Thursday 12 July 2012, 11.00CET
A Spanish coach, a Canadian owner and the son of a Dutch legend are the unlikely team charged with ending Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC's nine-year wait for the Israeli Premier League title.
by Boaz Goren
from Tel Aviv
Maccabi mix it up in hunt for elusive title
Óscar García is the head coach of Maccabi Tel-Aviv ©Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC
Published: Thursday 12 July 2012, 11.00CET

Maccabi mix it up in hunt for elusive title

A Spanish coach, a Canadian owner and the son of a Dutch legend are the unlikely team charged with ending Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC's nine-year wait for the Israeli Premier League title.

Nine seasons without the Israeli Premier League title is too much for fans of Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC to bear.

The most decorated club in Israeli football, Maccabi have won the top-flight championship on 18 occasions but not since the 2002/03 campaign. They begin their latest attempt to lift the trophy for that elusive 19th time having undergone a major transformation in the dugout.

Eight coaches, countless players and three owners have come and gone since 2003. Now it is down to a newly assembled team of backroom staff, including general manager Jordi Cruyff, to try and end the drought. Cruyff, son of Johan and a former player with the likes of FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC, joined Maccabi from AEK Larnaca FC in Cyprus.

"This club is massive but could not achieve what the fans have expected for many years," he said when taking the job. "It's a huge challenge for me." Now in the role of head coach at Maccabi is another former Barcelona player, Óscar García, who has been involved with the Azulgrana's revered youth setup for the past two years. "I can't promise titles, but I can promise that the team will fight," he promised the Maccabi fans.

Gerard Autet (assistant manager) and Juan Jose Toriso (fitness coach) have also joined the club, which now boasts the largest foreign contingency of coaching staff in the history of Israeli football. The Spanish influx has also been reflected on the pitch, with striker Gonzalo García and defender Carlos García brought in as part of the revamped outfit.

The whole revolution has been overseen by owner Mitchell Goldhar, a Canadian businessman who bought the club back in 2009. "My vision does not stop here," said Goldhar when he introduced Cruyff to the local media. "We still need patience in order to really build something." Changes are afoot then, but, for now, the wait goes on for the Maccabi faithful.

Last updated: 12/07/12 11.04CET

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