Maccabi Tel Aviv FC officially put up the “under construction” sign this week as management has begun to build the team for the upcoming season. With training camp opening up next week, the yellow-and-blue appointed new/old head coach Vladimir “Vladan” Ivic as their bench boss as the Serbian signed a 2-year deal to return to the site of arguably his greatest success on the sidelines.
The now 45-year old first arrived at Kiryat Shalom in the summer of 2018 and helped the club win the 18/19 Israel League title by a 31-point margin while also capturing the Toto Cup. The following season saw Ivic duplicate his success by again taking home the domestic competition’s championship before departing for England in the summer of 2020 as he took over the reins at Watford until he was relieved of his duties in December of that year.
Since Ivic’s first term with Maccabi, the club had a number of managers step in to his shoes including Georgios Donis, Patrick Van Leeuwen and Mladen Krstajic as well as the Head of Football Department Barak Itzhaki on an interim basis, however, none were able to replicate the long term success that Ivic saw during his two years in charge. While Maccabi did win the State Cup, Toto Cup and Super Cup during Ivic’s time away from the team, Maccabi finished in 2nd place during the 20/21 campaign and a disappointing 3rd place in 21/22.
One area that the yellow-and-blue did succeed in was on the European stage where they participated in the UEFA Europa League group stages and advanced to the Round of 32 in 2020/21 along with taking part in the brand new UEFA Conference League while also making it into the knockout stages of the competition.
In Ivic’s previous tenure with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the club was eliminated in the earlier stages of the Europa League and finding a way into the group stages will certainly be a goal in his latest term with the yellow-and-blue.
“I am looking forward to the challenge and I am focused on working hard to achieve our targets,” Ivic told the club’s official website after it was announced that he will return to Maccabi.
Owner Mitch Goldhar also spoke about bringing Ivic back into the fold, “I look forward to working closely with Vladan again. I am confident that he and his staff will bring the focus and work ethic necessary to succeed.”
Ivic’s coaching staff will see the return to Tel Aviv of Milos Veselinovic and Christos Kelpekis who were both part of the club during his first term and they will be joined by two new additions in Sinisa Gogic as second assistant coach and Pavlos Gotsis as fitness coach.
Immediately after Ivic’s appointment, the signing of Dutch midfielder Joris van Overeem was announced and signed a 3-year contract with the club after having played with Utrecht in Holland since 2018. Van Overeem is the son of an Israeli mother, which will allow him to play as an Israeli and not as a foreigner therefore keeping slots open for imports with the goal of strengthening the club.
The 28-year old grew up in AZ Alkmaar’s youth system and made 27 appearances last season across all competitions for Utrecht. Back in the 2016/17 season van Overeem played against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Europa League action as a member of AZ.
“I am happy to arrive in Tel Aviv and join Maccabi – the biggest club in Israel,” van Overeem said to the club’s website. “My ambition at Maccabi is to win as many titles as we possibly can. I am looking forward to play in front of Maccabi’s fans at Bloomfield stadium.”
Maccabi will be heading out of the country for a training camp in Mierlo, Holland where they will play a trio of friendly matches with two of the opponents already determined, Alemannia Aachen from the 4th division in Germany on June 29th and KVC Westerlo from the top league in Belgium on July 2nd.
The third match will take place on July 5th or 6th and will be a final warmup ahead of the club’s opening match of the 2022/23 campaign against Maccabi Netanya on July 14th in Toto Cup play.
A week later, the yellow-and-blue will begin their UEFA Conference League qualification in the second round against Zira FK from Azerbaijan. Zira, which was founded in 2014 is a relative newcomer to continental football and will be participating in European qualifiers for only the second time in franchise history. The last time they took part in European qualifying was in the 2017/18 season when they were eliminated in the second round of the Europa League.