Robbie Keane says Maccabi Tel Aviv will continue their European campaign

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Robbie Keane says Maccabi Tel Aviv will continue their European campaign

Manager has been overseeing preparations for the club’s appearance in UEFA Conference League

PLAYERS at Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club are going straight from their training sessions to funerals, shivas, or centres where people from Gaza border communities were evacuated to try and cheer up the children there.

Manager Robbie Keane has been overseeing preparations for the club’s UEFA Conference League campaign via video links from his base in Dublin, Ireland, having been taken out of Israel shortly after the Hamas terrorist attacks last month.

With Israeli domestic football suspended and Keane, his senior coaching staff and the club’s foreign players having left the country, special measures have been put in place so that Maccabi Tel Aviv can continue their European campaign, where they have already had some success in the group stages.

Maccabi’s game against the Ukraine side Zorya Luhansk is scheduled to go ahead on November 9, in Poland. That is the second leg of the tie, as the first leg due to be played in Tel Aviv at the end of October was postponed and rescheduled for November 25, at a venue yet to be decided.

Maccabi have eight foreign players in their squad of 27 who have been given individual training programmes or have linked up with clubs outside Israel where they can train.

At the same time, Keane and his assistant Rory Delap have been trying to oversee the training of the home players at their base in Tel Aviv through video link.

The training sessions have been coached on the ground by Israeli members of the Maccabi backroom staff and while no live link is available, Keane and Delap have been studying videos so that they can make recommendations for the next sessions.

There has been an emphasis on not overloading the players, as they now have more commitments in the local community.

It helps Keane that some of Maccabi’s preparation before the Hamas strike on October 7 was already done away from the training ground, with video sessions at the apartment complex where Keane and his coaching staff were living in Tel Aviv.

The apartments, like many in the city, have safe rooms where residents go in the event of rocket attacks, and Keane spent time in one of these before he was taken out of the country to Greece, along with other foreign coaches and players as part of Israel Football Association protocols.

Keane is currently back home in Dublin, trying to maintain some cohesiveness ahead of the UEFA tie. His assistant, fellow former Irish international Delap, has returned to his home in England, but the pair have experience of remote coaching which they were involved in during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Former Tottenham striker Keane was appointed Maccabi Tel Aviv manager in June and has enjoyed a successful start, with his team unbeaten and top of the Israeli Premier League after five matches, while also negotiating their way through the preliminary stages of the UEFA Conference League.


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