Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Eden Ben-Basat.
(photo credit: MACCABI TEL AVIV WEBSITE)
The stormy weather that struck Israel on Wednesday forced the postponement of the State Cup quarterfinal first leg between Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Maccabi Tel Aviv due to a waterlogged pitch at the municipal stadium in Kiryat Shmona.
A torrential downpour in Kiryat Shmona in the hours leading to the 9 p.m. kickoff flooded the stadium’s turf and after inspecting the pitch for the second time, referee Menashe Mashiah decided to call off the match.
Both teams agreed with his decision and the first leg will have to be rescheduled for some time over the next two weeks, with Maccabi to host the second leg at Bloomfield Stadium on March 3/4.
“We arrived at the stadium more than two hours before the kickoff and knew that the weather was problematic,” said Mashiah.
“We inspected the pitch and it was completely drenched. There is no sporting value to a match played in these conditions. I wanted to protect the health of the players.”
Kiryat Shmona coach Barak Bachar accepted that the right decision was made.
“We all want to see a soccer match being played, not water polo,” he said.
Maccabi coach Pako Ayestaran echoed the sentiment. “This is the right decision,” he said. “There was no way we could have played here.”
Kiryat Shmona and Maccabi won’t have to wait long for their next meeting, with the Premier League’s top two to clash in league action at Bloomfield on Monday.
Maccabi currently leads the standings by two points.
As a result of the postponement of Wednesday’s encounter, Maccabi forward Tal Ben-Haim will now serve his one-game suspension in the league showdown between the teams.
Gili Vermouth, who completed a controversial move to Maccabi from Hapoel Tel Aviv last week, was set to make his debut for the yellow-and-blue on Wednesday, but will have to wait until Monday to play for his new team for the first time.