Europa League Preview: Maccabi at Sivasspor, Beer Sheva visits Nice, Alon Mizrahi looks back at his time in France

Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beer Sheva both play in Europa League action Thursday evening as the Yellow & Blue will take on Sivasspor in Turkey at 19:55 while the southern Reds travel to France for a date with Nice at 22:00.

Last week Giorgos Donis’s squad defeated Qarabag 1-0 while Yossi Abuksis’s team downed Slavia Prague 3-1 as the two clubs picked up wins and three points to get their continental campaigns off to a good start.

Sivasspor is playing in the group stages of a European competition for the first time and feature former Maccabi Netanya marksman Larry Kayode. The Turkish team fell this week in league play to Rizespor 2-0 and are in 14th place after having lost to Villarreal 5-3 in a barnburner. After starring in Israel during the 14/15 season where he scored 23 goals in 56 games, Kayode signed with Austria Wien where he scored 30 goals in 67 appearances which out him on Manchester City’s radar screen as the Nigerian signed with the English Premier League club. Kayode however never made an appearance for City and then made stops at Girona, Shakhtar and Gaziantep.

Over at Nice, the French squad coached by former Arsenal star Patrick Vieira sits in 5th place in Ligue 1 after having drawn with Lille 1-1 in league play while having lost to Bayer Leverkusen 6-2 in their first Europa League outing of the season. Nice have a number of young dangerous goal scorers in 23-year old Kasper Dolberg who already has 3 goals in 6 matches, 20-year old Frenchman Amine Gouiri who has found the back of the goal 3 times in 8 outings and veteran Dante who already has 2 goals on the campaign for the first time since he was with Bayern Munich 13/14.

Interestingly enough only one Israeli has ever featured for Nice and that was Alon Mizrahi back in the winter of 1999 from Maccabi Haifa when he made 19 appearances for the club and scored 4 goals in his only foray beyond the borders of the Holy Land. Mizrahi is the country’s all time leading goal scorer with 218 markers over a career that spanned 16 seasons.

Mizrahi spoke to Nice’s official website ahead of Beer Sheva’s visit, a team that he himself played for 03-05 about how he arrived at the club.

“In 98-99 I played against PSG for Maccabi Haïfa in the Round of 32 of the Cup Winners’ Cup. In the return leg, I scored 2 goals and we knocked out Paris (3-2, 1-1 in the first leg). It was at that moment that Nice wanted to bring me to France.”

Mizrahi’s time in France was very short he explained, “I would have liked to have stayed longer at Nice; At the time, it was difficult for foreigners and especially for Israelis to move to Europe. When you arrive you also need a bit of luck and I didn’t have that. I didn’t sign for Nice at the right time.”

But he still remembers his time as being positive with the club,“I love the club and it has developed well since my departure. There’s a very good stadium and the team plays good football. I follow Nice and I’m interested in Ligue 1, a championship I watch every week. I also come often to the Côte d’Azur as I have friends there and I like the region a lot.”

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