Maccabi Haifa will hoist a championship plate on Saturday night in a game against Hapoel Jerusalem, but the club is already thinking about next season. Club president Yaakov Shahar met yesterday with youth team coach Masai about the possibility of him being promoted and coaching the first team.
Dego's financial terms won't be a problem. The main emphasis is on the way the champion wants to see him manage the team professionally. It's a decision that even the players were surprised to hear.
Alongside Dego, Hapoel Afula coach Shahar Weisinger, who will arrive as an assistant coach, and goalkeeping coach Itai Zilfa, are also expected to be on the professional staff. At the moment, former Greens captain Dekel Keinan is inclined not to come as another assistant coach, and an attempt will be made to persuade him to come anyway.
Masai Dego. Will need help to fit into the challenging role, Photo: Udi Zitiat
In any case, the club makes it clear that next season, professional manager Gal Alberman will be much more dominant within the professional staff and in front of the players. Carmel defines this decision as "critical to the success of the move" and as the right way to bring Dego seamlessly into the role, in the hope that he will know how to deal with quite a bit of ego in the dressing room.
Apart from the professional staff, Shahar and Alberman's intention is to try to strengthen the existing squad, and avoid releasing key players as much as possible. French-Jewish midfielder Laurent Abergil is close to a deal with the Greens, who are expected to pay half a million euros for his player card and give him another half a million euros.
Abergil is due to sign a two-year contract, and if things come to fruition, an official announcement is expected next week. At the same time, the club is also examining the addition of Ben Lederman, the back midfielder of Polish club Rakow (who won the championship). Lederman is a member of the Polish national team and holds an Israeli passport.
Maccabi Haifa is making great efforts to locate a Jewish striker as well, and the scouting department maintains a list of Jewish players in several positions. "The identity of the coach is important, but the quality of the squad is no less important," Haifa said. "The desire is to build a stronger team than last season."
The budget for the 2023/24 season is expected to cross the NIS 100 million threshold, following financial upgrades for some players and the addition of several others.
Gal Alberman. Critical role, photo: Alan Shaver
In the current roster, goalkeeper Josh Cohen may eventually stay. The breakthrough came with an offer of a new two-year contract, which Cohen is inclined to accept. If that happens, the champions may add another second goalkeeper and forfeit the possibility of bringing in English-Jewish Nathan Baxter, who belongs to Chelsea.
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Haifa initially offered Josh Cohen a one-season contract, and in those conversations the goalkeeper expressed a desire to return to the United States with his partner. With a two-year contract, Cohen may upgrade financially and secure his future.
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