Hapoel Kfar Saba players celebrate after Eliran Simon (left) scored the opener in his team’s surprise 2-0 victory last night at Hapoel Tel Aviv in the State Cup round-of-16..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Matters continued to go from bad to worse for Hapoel Tel Aviv after it was knocked out by Hapoel Kfar Saba of the National League in the State Cup roundof- 16 on Wednesday night, while Hapoel Beersheba overcame its recent struggles to advance to the quarterfinals.
Hapoel Tel Aviv was hoping to steady the ship slightly with a win over a supposedly inferior opponent in what was new coach Eli Cohen’s first match at the helm.
However, the complete disarray the club finds itself in following the unceremonious departure of manager Eyal Berkovic last week and the sacking of coach Asi Domb on Saturday, continued to take its toll on Wednesday, with Kfar Saba claiming a wellearned 2-0 victory at Bloomfield Stadium.
In case Cohen had any doubt regarding the magnitude of the task he faces at the club, he was given a stark remainder by Kfar Saba.
Tel Aviv was largely outplayed by the impressive second division side, which currently sits in second place in the National League, with Eliran Simon’s (9) fantastic volley and Omer Fadida’s (83) bullet from 20 meters out securing the visitors a deserved win.
“I’m really happy,” said Kfar Saba coach Felix Naim. “I hope we face a small team in the next round so we can keep moving on.”
Cohen warned Hapoel has yet to hit rock bottom.
“This was a dark day,” he said.
“I didn’t expect us to play like this, but this is a result of all the problems the team has. We saw all of Hapoel’s weaknesses tonight and we need to find a solution for them very quickly or we may plummet down the standings.”
A Siraj Nasar goal in the 116th minute gave Hapoel Beersheba a tight 1-0 win against Hapoel Ra’anana in Netanya.
Beersheba once more struggled for form and the pressure in the squad showed on the brink of halftime. Captain Elyaniv Barda and Nigerian midfielder John Ugo exchanged shoves and curses in the center of the field and had to be separated by their teammates.
Despite being two of his team’s more important players, coach Elisha Levy substituted both of them at the break. Beersheba ultimately scored the winner four minutes before the tie headed to penalties, with a swift team move ending with the ball at the feet of Nasar, who found the bottom left corner with an accurate effort from the edge of the box.
“We received the toughest draw possible as Ra’anana is a fantastic team and made life very difficult for us,” said Beersheba coach Levy.
“I’m pleased that we advanced and I’m also happy with the spirit and determination we showed and that we managed to win the match despite all the difficulties.”
Levy said the team will look into the squabble between Barda and Ogu before deciding whether to take further action.
“We had a lot to lose in this match so I can understand why the players were nervous,” he said. “But at the end of the day we got the job done.”
The match between Maccabi Haifa and Ironi Kiryat Shmona ended after press time, with the score tied at 0-0 heading into extra-time.
Beersheba and Kfar Saba joined Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Petah Tikva who secured their progress to the last eight on Tuesday.
The draw for the quarterfinals will take place at Israel Football Association headquarters in Ramat Gan on Sunday.
There will be at least two more teams from outside the Premier League in the quarterfinals, with Maccabi Yavne (National League) to play Shikun Hamizrach on Thursday (III) while Hapoel Afula (NL) will face Ma’alot-Tarshiha (III). Also Thursday, Ashdod SC visits Ahi Nazareth (NL).