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Haifa eager to move on against AEK

Maccabi Haifa FC are determined to put the disappointment of their UEFA Champions League play-off defeat behind them when they host Cypriot side AEK Larnaca FC in Group J.

Elisha Levi will guide Maccabi Haifa through their first meeting with Cypriot opponents
Elisha Levi will guide Maccabi Haifa through their first meeting with Cypriot opponents ©Getty Images

Maccabi Haifa FC will hope to make it through the UEFA Europa League group stage, as they did in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup, when they kick off their Group J campaign against AEK Larnaca FC.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in Europe and this is also Haifa's first contest with Cypriot opponents.

• AEK took on Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup second qualifying round; they won the home leg 3-0 in Nicosia thanks to Dragan Isailović's first-half hat-trick, but were thrashed 4-0 in the return fixture in Tel Aviv.

• Haifa played five home games at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia – where the return leg of this fixture will be played – during their 2002/03 European campaign, winning three and losing two. Those results included 3-0 victories against Olympiacos FC and Manchester United FC in the UEFA Champions League first group stage.

Match background
• Haifa have won their last four European home games since losing 1-0 to FC Girondins de Bordeaux in their final 2009/10 UEFA Champions League group stage game.

• They are on a five-game continental winning streak at the Kiryat Eliazer Stadium since a 2-0 loss to CF Gloria 1922 Bistriţa in the 2007 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

• Prior to this season, AEK had lost all four of their European away games without scoring a single goal. However, they kicked off this campaign with an 8-0 win at Floriana FC – their best European result to date – and have drawn their two subsequent fixtures on their travels.

Team facts
• AEK striker Miljan Mrdjaković played in Israel with Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in the 2006/07 season.

• Having previously led FC Ashdod in the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup, Elisha Levi has won league titles with the club in 2008/09 and 2010/11 and took his side through a UEFA Champions League group stage campaign two seasons ago.

• AEK are coached by Dutchman Ton Caanen, with help from sporting director Jordi Cruyff – son of the great Johan Cruyff. Following a spell in Ukraine with FC Metalurh Donetsk, Caanen was in charge of Beitar Jerusalem FC and Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in Israel. He later coached FC Stal Alchevsk and Maltese side Valletta FC before coming to ambitious AEK in 2010.

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