Maccabi Tel Aviv names Zarko Lazetic as head coach

Jun 24, 2024 | Football

Maccabi Tel Aviv appointed Serbian Žarko Lazetic as the club’s new head coach after having been in charge of TSC Backa Topola for the past three seasons. Lazetic will succeed Robbie Keane as the yellow-and-blue bench boss after an agreement was reached with Serbian outfit which finished this past season in third place in the domestic league behind powerhouses Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade.

The 42-year old was named Manager of the Season by his peers and club captains after having guided his squad to the Europa League group stages last season where he faced the likes of West Ham, Freiburg and Olympiacos. Lazetic becomes Maccabi’s 4th Serbian head coach after Slavisa Jokanovic, Vladimir Ivic and Mladen Krstajic.

Lazetic joined TSC in November 2021 from newly promoted side FC Metalac a club he guided to 8th place while a year after his appointment the club finished the 2022/23 season in 2nd place.

Lazetic, spent most of his playing career in Serbia as a forward with FK Belgrade, Partizan where he won the League and Cup double (2007/08), Vojvodina and Bezanija with short spells in Greece and Indonesia. In 2011 he came to Israel for a trial at Hapoel Acre and almost landed a spot with the port city club but came up just short.

He retired in 2013 and began his coaching career climbing up the ranks at Partizan where he held various coaching positions including 1st team Assistant Coach, U17’s, U18’s and U19’s Coach, 1st team caretaker and Head Coach of Partizan’s reserve team Teleoptik. He switched to Metalac Gornij Milanovac in 2020 before attracting the attention of TSC where he spent the past 2.5 years.

Maccabi’s owner, Mitch Goldhar said, “I am pleased to welcome Žarko and his team to Maccabi Tel Aviv. During the process I was impressed by Žarko’s resilient character and clear methodology which has, no doubt, contributed to consistent coaching achievements. He understood the task involved at Maccabi and is ready to work hard towards moving the club forward and achieving results. Please join me in welcoming Žarko along with the rest of the coaching staff and in wishing him much success.”

Žarko Lazetic, added, “I am excited to join such a great Club as Maccabi and looking forward to work hard in order to make this campaign as successful as possible.”

Lazetic will be joined by assistant coaches Drazen Bolic, Mutavdzic Dobrivoje who both worked with him at TSC as well as Bojan Leontijevic.

Professionally, Lezetic is a coach who knows how to get the most out of his team and his squad was able to compete with the likes of both Red Star and Partizan. While Maccabi’s new bench boss usually plays a 4-3-3 formation, he has shown the flexibility and the ability to switch to a formation of three central defenders if necessary.

TSC controlled the ball for the majority of the game last season at a 57.1% clip which was second in the domestic league just behind Partizan and was second only to the Red Star in passes (397.9 on average) while scoring just five less goals on the season than Partizan. One of Maccabi Tel’s problems in recent years has of course been the defense and it looks like Lazetic may have a solution for that as TSC recorded 17 clean sheets, the most in the league while conceding only 39 goals which was good for second place.

On numerous occasions the local media in Serbia declared that Lazetic’s soccer is the best in the country due to it being high pressure, attacking and with terrific quality. It was plain and simply fun to watch his team play.

During the past season, he met Israeli coach Barak Bachar who had been in charge of Red Star once, in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw and at the end of the contest he asked the Israeli tactician how he and his family and friends were doing following the events of October 7th.

Many in Serbia have benefited from impressed with his loyalty as well as his ability to get the most out of his players while also looking to push his own limits to be the best in the business. It has been said that he spent many a night at the club’s headquarters and ended up sleeping in the youth department due to his dedication to the task at hand.

There is no question that Lazetic is the best up-and-coming Serbian coach and many believe that he has a bright future ahead of him and Maccabi may serve as a springboard for him on the way to bigger and better leagues.

With a chance to secure a place in the Champions League, the opportunity to join Maccabi Tel Aviv was a no-brainer for Lazetic as the yellow-and-blue will look to turn the trick for the first time since 2015. Many of the yellow-and-blue bench bosses have moved to bigger clubs after succeeding with Maccabi whether it was Oscar Garcia, Peter Bosz, Slavisa Jokanovic and Paulo Sousa to name a few and this will no doubt be what Lazetic will be aiming for.

But for Maccabi fans, defending the league title along with playing in the group stages of one of the UEFA competitions as well as the Israel State Cup will be the goals. Should Lazetic earn favor in the fans eyes, then the sky’s the limit for the new sheriff in town.

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