After losing 2-0 to Belarusian powerhouse BATE Borisov in the first leg of the two-match Champions League group stage playoff, in Minsk on Wednesday, Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona will have to play its socks off and win handily at home next Tuesday if it wants to advance.
The team from the northern border town, population 23,000, was 1-0 down at half-time, conceded a second in the second-half, and failed to take the few chances it created.
BATE had defeated Hungary’s Debrecen with a 3-1 aggregate score to advance to the playoffs. It has finished first in the Belarusian League for the past six seasons and has won the Belarusian Cup twice since 2006.
Last season BATE advanced to the Champions League group stage and was knocked out with four loses and two draws.
Kiryat Shmona won the national title for the first time in its history four months ago, and has made impressive strides in international soccer.
If it manages to recover next week and get past the Belarusian team, Kiryat Shmona would enter the prestigious Champions League. If not, it will play in the second-level Europa League.