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ISRAELIS MAKE HISTORY AGAINST HOOPS

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CELTIC will be Israelis Hapoel Be’er Sheva’s first-ever UK opponents when they go head-to-head in the Champions League play-off.

This is their first year in the European top flight and last season was only the third time in their history they have won the league title.

They previously picked up the championship two years in a row in 1975 and 1976, though only in the second year did it gain them entry into European competition – and even then it was the Intertoto Cup.

In their first-ever Champions League qualifier they defeated Sheriff Tiraspol, of Moldova, after winning 3-2 at home and drawing 0-0 away. They shocked Greek aces Olympiakos 1-0 on aggregate to set up the tussles with the Hoops.

At the beginning of last season, they moved from Vasermil Stadium to the newly-opened Turner Stadium. It was named after former Be’er Sheva mayor Yaakov Turner and it has a capacity of 16,000 with four similarly constructed stands.

They have 11 international players – nine of them Israelis. Be’er Sheva also boast Efe Ambrose’s Nigerian team-mate John Ogu and Ovidiu Hoban, of Romania.

The club retired the No.6 shirt after the death of Zambian international striker Chaswe Nsofwa, who had only recently signed forthe team when the tragedy occurred.

Four days after his debut, where he scorded twice, Nsofwa collapsed during a training match with Maccabi Be’er Sheva. He died of suspected heart failure.

 
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