Shahar Piven, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s young central defender looked ahead to Sunday night’s Israel Premier League Ligat Japanika clash at Kiryat Shemona (20:15) while also looking at his own performance:

I’ve been in the Starting XI over the last few matches and the battle to get a place in the squad is very difficult. This is a daily battle and it’s great that it is. I feel great playing with my teammates and I’m learning a tremendous amount. It’s just a great opportunity to both play and train with these types of players.”

Returning from loan:
“Every player has his own journey. After playing for the Under-19 side I was loaned for a year and a half and it was the best thing for me. I always believed in myself and that I would return to Maccabi. I’m happy that I returned this season and it’s a dream come true for myself and I’ll continue to work hard exactly for this.”

Has it been easy for Maccabi this season:
“It hasn’t been easy. We began our matches well recently and it may look easy but beforehand we had to really work hard and the opponents came ready to play against us. We have a very tough game, they are an excellent team which hasn’t lost at home and they also have a quality defense. We’re not underestimating them.”

About the team off of the pitch:
“I don’t know what it was like in the last but I do know that right now we have a very hungry team that wants to win titles and succeed. It’s a mixture of young and experienced players. Even when I didn’t play or when others did play we all want everyone to succeed.”

Personal goals:
“To become a starter at Maccabi Tel Aviv. I’m very happy with the opportunity I’ve been given and that the club relies on me. I want to play as much as I can this season and continue to improve.”