Head of Maccabi’s Football Department, Barak Itzhaki, who will guide the team as interim coach against HJK Helsinki, said on the eve of the match: “We are focusing on the most important game for us which is the forthcoming match” Itzhaki opened the Press Conference. “We have a tough match, the previous match ended in a relatively high score but I expect this match to be different, totally different. They ended their season by winning their league title at the weekend so they will arrive with clear minds as we are expecting a very tough match”.
On the team’s start to the season, Itzhaki said: “Everyone has a part. We will sit and analyse where we made mistakes, no one is hiding. I will give my explanations to whoever I need to. There is no doubt that everyone has his share including myself”.
Itzhaki, who led Maccabi in his first match in charge to a 3-1 victory over Kiryat Shmona at the weekend, added: “I think we must restore the players’ confidence because we have a good team and group of talented good players. We managed to see that in several matches this season. It is important to restore the confidence and belief, and I am certain they will do so because I really believe in them”.
Answering a question on what he took from former coaches he worked under at Maccabi, Itzhaki replied: “It is no secret that we were coached by coaches who progressed to the top European leagues. I was fortunate to work under most of them and just like every player who thinks about the day after (playing) you want to take things for the future, and I did. I am happy that I worked with coaches of that level”.
On his personal feelings in the wake of his recent role as interim coach, Itzhaki revealed: “This is new to me, different pressure, totally different stress. It is not like sitting in the stands, even though some of you saw me in the stands and saw what I look like – energetic and living the game. I was just like that during my last years as a player, always lively during the game and pushing players to the edge. There is nothing new in this aspect, but when you are coaching a team and try to pass on your messages to the players it is totally different. I feel ok”.
When asked about his job description as the Head of the Football Department and how long he is expected to remain as interim coach, Itzhaki added: “The owner’s announcement at the start of the season was very clear. Ultimately, I am responsible for certain departments and this is what I do. I really hope that we will find a coach as soon as possible – this is our target. We are looking, working on it and whenever we have the intended name you will learn about from an official club statement”.