Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Maharan Radi was handed a one-year contract extension on Wednesday, two days after scoring his team’s opener in the 2-0 win over Beiter Jerusalem.
(photo credit:DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba visits Bnei Sakhnin on Saturday, the first in a run of three straight road games over the coming week, by the end of which it hopes to have clinched a second straight Premier League championship.
Three days after its trip to Sakhnin, Beersheba will travel up north once more to face Maccabi Haifa on Tuesday. Beersheba then plays Maccabi Tel Aviv in Netanya next Saturday in their final meeting of the season.
Beersheba holds a six-point gap over Maccabi, which visits Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium on Saturday, as well as having a significantly superior goal difference (+49 to +33).
Beersheba will already be able to celebrate another league title should its margin be at nine points or more at the end of next Saturday’s action after which each team will have three more matches remaining.
“We have six more matches to play and we are beginning to see the finish line,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar, whose team will be targeting its eighth straight victory on Saturday. “We are entering a tough stretch and we are not thinking too far ahead.”
Sakhnin’s season is already a resounding success after it surprisingly sneaked into the championship playoffs. Last weekend’s 1-0 win at Maccabi Haifa moved Sakhnin within just three points of Maccabi Petah Tikva in third place, which leads to Europa League qualification.
Petah Tikva, which has lost five straight games, hosts Maccabi Haifa on Saturday, with the Greens in sixth place, seven points back of third.
Maccabi Tel Aviv knows that even should it win its final six matches, including against Beersheba, it would likely require the reigning champion to drop points in two more games in order to overhaul it.
Maccabi has barely made a wrong step in recent months, winning nine of its last 10 matches, while picking up 37 of 42 points from its past 14 games since the sacking of coach Shota Arveladze.
Elsewhere Saturday, the relegation playoffs resume after a two-week break. The battle against demotion to the National League looks set to be fought out between three teams.
The bottom two face each other on Monday night, with last-place Hapoel Kfar Saba (22 points) visiting Hapoel Tel Aviv (24). That gives Hapoel Ashkelon, which is one point above Tel Aviv and the relegation zone, a chance to create some breathing room when it welcomes Bnei Yehuda (31) on Saturday. Also Saturday, Hapoel Haifa (32) hosts Ashdod SC (31) and Hapoel Ra’anana (31) goes to Ironi Kiryat Shmona (36).
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