Hapoel Be'er Sheva v Motherwell: lowdown on Israeli opponents looking to end Fir Park side's European run
Motherwell face Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the third-qualifying round of the Europa League on Thursday.The Fir Park side squeezed past Northern Irish side Coleraine on penalties to earn their shot against the Israelis.Here is the lowdown on the next opponents for Stephen Robinson's team.
It was a mixed bag for Be’er Sheva last year. They finished fourth in the Israeli Premier League, winning just 15 of their 36 league games, before claiming the State Cup with a 2-0 final win over Maccabi Petah Tikva. That inconsistency has continued. After losing the Israeli Super Cup 4-0 on aggregate to Maccabi Tel Aviv, they have kicked off their league campaign with two wins out of three. They teed up their showdown with Motherwell by beating Georgians Dinamo Batumi 3-0 last week.
Rangers fans may remember Yossi Abukasis after he netted a penalty to put former club Beitar Jerusalem ahead in a UEFA Cup tie with Dick Advocaat's Ibrox side in 1998. He won three Israeli league titles and two State Cups as a player before moving into management. The 50-year-old served Bnei Yehuda as boss across three spells, leading the club to a State Cup win in 1999, before the repeating the feat a year later with Be’er Sheva.
Motherwell will have to watch out for former Portugal international Josue Pesqueira. The 30-year-old - capped four times by his country - started his career at Porto and has also had spells in Turkey with Bursaspor and Galatasaray. With three goals in four games so far, the playmaker is the dangerman for Abukasis team.
Be’er Sheva's early European forays were harsh lessons in facing the continental elite. Barcelona dished out a 12-0 UEFA Cup aggregate beating in 1995 while they were walloped 14-0 over two legs by Dutch side Rode in a Cup Winners’ Cup tie two years later. But a takeover by Israeli business tycoon Alona Barkat sparked an upturn and in 2016 they were handed a Europa League group stage ticket - consolation for missing out on the Champions League after losing narrowly to Brendan Rodgers' Celtic 5-4 on aggregate. They made it as far as the last 32 before being exiting to Besiktas.
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