Leader K8 aims to distance itself from pack

Ironi Kiryat Shmona sets its sights on strengthening its hold on first place when it hosts Ashdod SC on Saturday.

December 19, 2014 06:29
1 minute read.
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Ironi Kiryat Shmona players (in blue) celebrate after taking a 2-0 lead over Maccabi Haifa during a 3-1 win at Sammy Ofer Stadium.. (photo credit: ERAN LUF)

After going undefeated against the entire Premier League in the first third of the season, Ironi Kiryat Shmona sets its sights on strengthening its hold on first place when it hosts Ashdod SC on Saturday.

With title rivals Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba not in action until Sunday and Monday, respectively, Kiryat Shmona can move five points clear with a victory against Ashdod.

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Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva in Netanya, while Beersheba visits Beitar Jerusalem.

Despite still being unbeaten in 2014/15, Kiryat Shmona has struggled by its standards in recent weeks, winning just one of its past four matches.

Barak Bachar’s side dropped two important points last week after squandering a two-goal cushion and drawing 2-2 with Hapoel Acre.

After winning its first three home games, Kiryat Shmona has taken all three points only once over its last four matches at the municipal stadium, a record it will have to improve on if it has any intention of challenging for the title.

“I don’t know what will happen next, we may lose along the way and we may not win the championship, but I can promise you one thing: We will remain a united team until the end,” Bachar wrote to the club’s fans in a letter published on the club’s official website.

“Teams are going to be better prepared for us in the second round of action and the matches will only get tougher.”

Ashdod lost 3-1 to Maccabi Haifa in the semifinals of the Toto Cup on Wednesday, but brings a five-match unbeaten streak in league action to Kiryat Shmona.

Elsewhere Saturday, Hapoel Haifa coach Reuven Atar could be out of a job if his rock-bottom team fails to beat Hapoel Acre, the floundering Hapoel Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Petah Tikva hosts Hapoel Ra’anana.

Maccabi Haifa will be looking to continue its recent revival on Saturday when it visits Bnei Sakhnin. Haifa has won three of its past four matches to climb up to fifth place and has got a Toto Cup final against Maccabi Tel Aviv to look forward to in two weeks thanks to the mid-week victory over Ashdod.

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