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Maccabi Haifa coach Dago wants his team to impose their superiority against Ħamrun Spartans

Maccabi Haifa coach Masai Dago is not underestimating the threat posed by Ħamrun Spartans as the Israeli side open their Champions League campaign against the Malta champions at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off: 8pm).

This evening Dago will make his debut as Maccabi Haifa coach after he replaced Barak Bakr who has moved to Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade.

Speaking to the Israeli media on the eve of the match, Dago said that he is not giving much importance to what Ħamrun Spartans coach Luciano Zauri claimed, that the Maltese side starts as huge underdogs in the tie.

“We are really excited to start our Champions League campaign,” Dago said.

“There is a good feeling in our camp ahead of a new beginning and there is optimism that we could start the campaign on the right footing.

“The Ħamrun Spartans coach claimed that his team had only a one per cent chance to qualify but I am fully aware of these mental games he is trying to play and I have warned my players too. Irrespective of what he said we cannot afford to underestimate any rival, let alone Ħamrun Spartans.

“If the Ħamrun coach said that his team has a one per cent chance, it means that he believes that his team has a chance to beat us.

“We know that we are a better team, but in the end, we come to a difficult stadium in tough conditions. The match is being played on a synthetic pitch and we don’t have much experience to play on such a surface either in the Israeli league or in Europe last season.

Dago said that the key for Maccabi Haifa today will be to approach the match with the right attitude and press the opponents right from the outset.

“Ħamrun Spartans is an opponent that went through three rounds last year. They blew Levski Sofia away, which is a strong team, and made life difficult for Partizan Belgrade,” he said.

“It’s up to us… I always talk about how important to approach the match with the right attitude. If you look back at last season, the team enjoyed the experience of playing in the Champions League and won the Israeli championship but we always played with a good attitude.

“If we take the pitch with right attitude and aggressiveness, pressing our opponents from the start, we will not give them the feeling that they can win and we will get the result we want.”

On his part, team skipper Charon Sherry said that he and his team-mates are focused on the job to do against Ħamrun Spartans.

 “This is a new season and the first official game, so we need to prepare properly for a very important game,” he said.

“Last season was historically amazing, but now it’s a new season starting from scratch. We need to focus on this season and be ready for this first game and qualify for the next stage. We are not talking about being the favourites because we just have to come, be ready, and win this game.”

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