Salzburg seek to lay Israeli ghost
Monday, August 9, 2010
Beaten in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League play-off round by Israeli opposition, FC Salzburg will be eager to avoid a repeat with Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC standing between them and the group stage.
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FC Salzburg have the opportunity to banish the memory of their most recent UEFA Champions League disappointment when they welcome Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC to Austria for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off round tie.
• In last year's play-offs Salzburg were at home to another Israeli club, Maccabi Haifa FC, for the first leg, and were up against it from the moment Mohammad Ghadir gave the visitors a 22nd-minute lead. Salzburg went on to lose 2-1, subsequently going down 3-0 in Israel.
• That was the third time in four seasons Salzburg had fallen at the last hurdle before the group stage. They suffered third qualifying round defeats by FC Shakhtar Donetsk (3-2 on aggregate) and Valencia CF (3-1 on aggregate) in 2007/08 and 2006/07 respectively.
• Before this term Hapoel had played only one UEFA Champions League tie, against Austrian opposition, in the 2000/01 second qualifying round. SK Sturm Graz beat them home (3-0) and away (2-1).
• This time around the Israeli champions knocked out Bosnia-Herzegovina's FK Željezničar in the second qualifying round (5-0 home, 1-0 away) before overturning a 1-0 first-leg loss in Kazakhstan against FK Aktobe with a 3-1 triumph in Tel Aviv.
• Salzburg were 5-0 home winners in the first leg of their second qualifying round tie against HB Tórshavn, rendering a 1-0 reverse in the Faroe Islands largely irrelevant. The Austrian side then drew 1-1 at AC Omonia in the third qualifying round first leg before defeating the Cypriot titleholders 4-1 at home.
• Last season's Haifa tie was Salzburg's second taste of Israeli opposition after their 5-2 aggregate win against the same team (2-1 away, 3-1 home) in the 1994/95 UEFA Champions League preliminary round.
• Since their first Austrian encounter, against Sturm, Hapoel have fared better against opponents from that country with a 4-1 aggregate defeat of FC Kärnten (4-0 away, 0-1 home in a match played in Sofia) in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup first round.
• Hapoel were paired with SK Rapid Wien in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage, recording a 5-1 win at home – Itay Shechter, Gil Vermouth and Mehran Lala were among the scorers – and a 3-0 victory away with Avihay Yadin and Vermouth on target.
• Salzburg central defender Rabiu Afolabi and Hapoel goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama were both in the Nigeria squad at this summer's FIFA World Cup, the former playing two games and the latter all three.