On October 29, 2002, late at night, Maccabi Haifa owner Yaakov Shachar entered the airport in Nicosia, Cyprus. The owner, accompanied by an entourage, entered the airport and hundreds of green fans lying in any vacant space around the airport stood up in an instant and began to applaud the owners. Dawn’s highlight was a few hours after the Greens recorded their biggest win in history, 0: 3 over Manchester United the Great.
A few days passed and the drunken Greens came to Teddy Stadium for a game in the seventh round of the Premier League. Of course, Maccabi Haifa came as the clear favorite and the belief was that Igbini Yaakovo, Giovanni Russo, Yaniv Katan and the others would see superiority against the Israeli rival, just as they did against the Red Devils. In practice, the Greens recorded a fucking game that ended in a 4.0 defeat in favor of the team from the capital, a loss that marked perhaps most of all the Greens’ season.
Over the years, Maccabi Haifa has had great success in Europe and has signed one of the most impressive campaigns ever of an Israeli team in the mainland factories, but there is also the other side: it almost always has a hard time making the transition from games against continental lions to gray league games. In that Champions season, it caused the loss of the championship to the hated rival Maccabi Tel Aviv. 19 years have passed, the Greens may not be in the Champions League, but after a particularly long absence, they will play again in the European home stage, this time in the Conference League. Barak Bachar’s biggest task will be to get the Greens to succeed where many Israeli teams have fallen in the past – to succeed in both the European factory and to win the championship. “If there is anyone who knows how to make the transition, it is Barak Bachar,” states a source at Hapoel Beer Sheva.
If in Be’er Sheva Bachar found the formula for success in a place where great coaches have failed in the past, such as Dror Kashtan and Yitzhak Shom, then the Greens coach opened the current season with a failure in this sector. Against Hapoel Hadera in the league where the team showed anemic ability and finished with 0: 0. This result again raised the question of whether the Greens’ roster is deep enough to make the transitions and whether the Greens are mentally strong enough to succeed this season in both sectors. In the media and around the team, it has even been claimed that in order to be successful this season, the champion must be strengthened by at least one more player.
The professional team also thought about the move between the league and Europe and even reacted, thinking about it, when they hurried to sign Roi Mishpati at the expense of Itamar Israeli to give Josh Cohen a rest and maybe even give him a fight between the posts. “There was a thought that maybe more positions should be strengthened,” claims a source close to the people in Haifa’s management, “but right now everyone understands that there is a really deep and really strong enough staff to make these transitions. It is true that against Hadera it looks very bad, but against Hapoel Tel Aviv. “We saw that the substitutes, plus the addition of three significant players in the last third of the game, won a team that should be in the top playoffs. That way, when there is a good enough staff to succeed in the league games even with changes in the lineup.“
Now, with the current staff or one that will change by one or two players at most, the Greens will embark on a fateful season for them, a season that will determine whether the championship was one.time or that symbolized the return of the dominant Maccabi Haifa. At the moment it seems that the only thing that can interfere is really the transition between Europe and the league. Among the players understand the meaning, but are convinced that they will succeed in doing so.
“There are very strong players in mind and also very hungry. The fact that we won a championship does not mean that we are satisfied,” says a player in the team. “The only thing we need to pass is our test against ourselves. If we are strong in the head and listen to what the team says, we will also do a beautiful campaign at home very hard in Europe and also take a second championship in a row.“