Tough draws for Israel clubs

Hapoel Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Tel Aviv were handed tough draws for the group stages of the Europa League.

Israeli champions Kiryat Shmona, who were eliminated from the Champions League after losing to Bate Borisov in the knockout round, were drawn in Group I alongside Lyon, Athletic Club and Sparta Prague.

Hapoel boss Gili Landau said: "After seeing the draw, I'd rather be pessimistic in my evaluation and optimistic in practice."

Keeper Danny Amos said: "It will be a great honour to play in the Europa League for the people in our little city of Kiryat Shmona."

Hapoel Tel Aviv avoided the British clubs and they will believe they have an outside chance of a top two finish after joining holders Athletico Madrid, Plzen and Academica.

Coach Nitzan Shirazi said: "To play against the holders, with a great striker like Falcao in the Vincente Calderon Stadium, it's a peak in a career every player wants to reach."

    Last updated: 11:18am, September 4 2012