Maccabi will face Ukrainian outfit Zorya Luhansk on MD4 of the Group B Conference League match at the Lublin Arena in Poland. With domestic football suspended due to the ongoing war in Israel, Eran Zahavi spoke about the return to action after a month without playing competitive football.

“We experienced a really tough month after all that has happened on October 7th as our world just stopped. We are always talking about football as a war: ‘Let’s win. Let’s fight’ and all the things we say. But the real war is back home in Israel. WE left our families there, and all the people we love. We have our soldiers there fighting. We are not going to fight. We are going to enjoy (ourselves) on the pitch as much as possible – this is our job and I don’t like to use these sentences anymore: Like fight on the pitch and all this. For me, it (such terminology) no longer exists.”

The 36-year-old forward who is Maccabi’s leading scorer this season with 13 goals in all competitions, added: “Football is not so important right at this moment if you compare it with the reality. Of course the preparations were not good enough if you compare it with normal preparations.”

With Maccabi flying the Israeli flag in Europe, Zahavi added: “Every time we play in Europe we represent not just Maccabi but also our country. Tomorrow will be special because of what has happened and our situation back home. Once again we try and do our best to make our fans happy. Everyone who loves football in Israel, many Maccabi fans who suffered from this terror attack – so we will try make them happy tomorrow.”

Zahavi tried explaining the mood in the camp ahead of tomorrow’s match: “When we all got together in the last few days, our team spirit felt really special. I am not sure how to describe it but just someone who was part of the team before October 7th and now, can really feel it. We are really doing our best and just hope that everything ends as soon as possible so that we could see all the people who were kidnapped return home which is the most important thing in my opinion”.