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Israeli rivals rebuild on success

Published: Friday 6 July 2007, 13.17CET
Beitar Jerusalem FC and Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC may have won the Israeli league and cup respectively last season but both clubs have been ringing the changes.
by Ofer Ronen-Abels
from Tel-Aviv
Published: Friday 6 July 2007, 13.17CET

Israeli rivals rebuild on success

Beitar Jerusalem FC and Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC may have won the Israeli league and cup respectively last season but both clubs have been ringing the changes.

It has been a summer of musical chairs in Israel with Beitar Jerusalem FC making another coaching change despite having ended their nine-year wait for a league title.

Beitar changes
Beitar owner Arkady Gaydamak only took over the club in August 2005 but is already on to his fifth coach. Yossi Mizrahi, who oversaw the championship success after succeeding Ossie Ardiles in mid-season, is now on his way with Itzhak Shum the new man in charge alongside Giyora Spiegel as technical director. The pair played together in Israel's sole FIFA World Cup finals appearance in 1970 and both have achieved success as coaches. Schum led both Maccabi Haifa FC and Panathinaikos FC into the UEFA Champions League, while Spiegel previously managed Maccabi and took them to the 1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup second round before a penalty shoot-out exit against holders Parma FC.

New signings
The first challenge for the new team in charge will be FC København in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. To that end Croatian goalkeeper Tbertko Kalle has already joined after a successful season at Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and experienced midfielder Idan Tal has been lined up as the next arrival from Bolton Wanderers FC. Kalle will take over from long-serving captain Itzhak Kornfein, who has retired from playing to become the club's general manager.

Levin out
Mizrahi was not the only coach to discover that winning silverware was no protection against the sack as, having led Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC to victory in the Israeli Cup, Nir Levin was replaced by former Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC chief Guy Luzon. That has left iconic Hapoel captain Josef Abukasis surplus to requirements and the veteran of their run to the 2001/02 UEFA Cup quarter-finals abandoned a planned farewell press conference in tears after hearing fans chanting his name. The 36-year-old will remain with the club as a scout, while his long-standing team-mate, goalkeeper Shavit Elimelech, has been released and joined newly-promoted Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC.

Key departures
On top of that Luzon will have to rebuild after three key squad members moved to Belgium. Midfielder Salim Toama has gone to R. Standard de Liège for around €1m, striker Elyaniv Barda is off to KRC Genk and Gil Vermouth has joined KAA Gent, bringing back memories of the 1980s when Ronny Rozenthal, Shalom Tikva and Eli Ohana went to Club Brugge KV, Standard and KV Mechelen respectively.

Last updated: 11/02/11 14.17CET

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