Maccabi Tel Aviv’s preparations ahead of the 2022/23 campaign are well underway and shortly before the team plays its’ first competitive match under Vladimir Ivic in the Toto Cup against Maccabi Netanya (Thursday, 20:00), Maccabi’s Head of Football Department, Barak Itzhaki, spoke about the appointment of the coach, the preparations in the summer and expectations for the new season.

On the changes to the squad and the players who joined:

For the moment there is nothing new, but I know for certain that once we will have some news we will update. Obviously we have the intention to strengthen the squad in several positions. For now I think our preparation was good but our aim is to strengthen even further. I don’t want to go into any specific names, but this is the squad we have for the moment and in the event of any changes we will make the appropriate announcements.

On the personal process he underwent over the years ahead of the current summer:

We are all people who learn on the move. It is true that we experienced some difficulties in recent years but I also think that those difficulties were in previous years as well, so let us put the past behind us and focus on the future. This season we made our preparations at an earlier stage, we haven’t completed our job and I hope we will do so as early as possible.

On Vladimir Ivic’s return to the role of coach:

Vladan and I had a very good relationship during his previous tenure here. We had several candidates for the role but I am certain that we made the best possible choice for the coach who will lead Maccabi at this stage. I am not going to go into the entire selection and appointment process, but when we understood that the option of Vladan could be relevant once again, we reached a decision that this is what we want to do and ultimately made the best possible choice.

On the return and fitness of Eran Zahavi

Like you all know, Eran had surgery on his knee several weeks ago. As someone who experienced one or two operations in my career, I know that feeling. Eran is currently in a rehabilitation process and we don’t want to place him under too much pressure. Eran is a player who works very, very hard and he will do the best possible rehabilitation. We have a very long season ahead of us, so whenever he is ready we will be delighted to welcome him back on the pitch as soon as possible.

On the recent success of Israel’s U-19’s in the European Championships

Maccabi Tel Aviv sent 7 players to the U-19’s European Championship and all our players played their part in the tournament. This is our future generation and we would like them to develop in the best possible way so that the first team could benefit from that in the future. A number of them (Oscar Gloukh, Roy Revivo and Dor Turgeman) joined the first team in pre-season and for the moment they are part of the squad.

On the foreign player in the squad:

The rule in Israeli football is very clear, 6 players could be registered and only five players could be on the pitch at the same time – which is something we will do. We are at a stage of completing the jigsaw and will deal with the situation in the event that we will bring certain players.

On the summer preparations and the completion of the squad:

I always strive to the best and there is no doubt that this season’s preparations was a little different. But still we would like to improve and do even better. The training camp we had was good and our aim is still to improve the squad in several positions.

On reports about the potential signing of Dor Peretz and Eli Dasa

Jack and I sat at Kiryat Shalom ahead of the season and said that we would like to bring the best Israeli players we possibly can. I am not going to go into any specific names but this is our target. The fact we haven’t made any progress with regards to certain players doesn’t mean that we don’t have a plan B’ or a plan C’ but everyone makes his own choices.

On the meteoric rise of Oscar Gloukh:

We were all delighted with the success that Israel’s Under 19’s enjoyed at the European Championships a few weeks ago. Maccabi had quite a number of players out there, while we followed them from the training camp, celebrated the goals, kept our fingers crossed and were very excited by their achievement. With regards to Osacr, he is a maccabi Tel Aviv player and has a contract at the club. I understand all the noise surrounding him considering how he ended last season and especially after the successful tournament he had. He has a name that generates a lot of interest all over Europe. We however remain focused on the Oscar who is at Maccabi Tel Aviv but in the event of any developments, we will update you all accordingly.