Betar hosts Hasharon looking to make it 3 in a row
It may seem long ago now, but it was just last week that Betar Jerusalem found itself at the foot of the Premier League standings.
Betar Jerusalem's Hen Azriel Photo: Asaf Kliger
It may seem long ago now, but it was just last week that Betar Jerusalem found itself at the foot of the Premier League standings without a win through the season’s first five matches.
However, two consecutive wins, especially the second against Hapoel Tel Aviv on Monday, have completely transformed the mood at the club, with Betar all of the sudden brimming with confidence ahead of Saturday’s encounter against Hapoel Ramat Hasharon at Teddy Stadium after climbing to eighth place in the table.
The star of the rousing 3-2 victory over Hapoel at Teddy was striker Hen Azriel, who came on as a substitute in the 69th minute and played a major role in John Paintsil’s own goal two minutes later before scoring a sensational winner seven minutes after entering the match.
The 24-year-old looked to have a very bright future ahead of him after scoring 10 league goals in Jerusalem in 2010/11 before making a lucrative move to Maccabi Haifa.
However, he was on the field for only 360 total minutes throughout last season, scoring just a single goal for the Greens.
He returned to Betar on loan this summer and his wild celebrations after scoring against Hapoel are understandable when you consider that not only had he given his team the lead against its archrival, but that he had also done so with his first league goal in a year.
“Betar Jerusalem is my home and although I may be a Maccabi Haifa player my goal is to never leave Betar again,” Azriel told the official Betar website.
“After I scored the second goal I prayed that the referee would end the match there and then. It was a perfect moment. A moment you want to savor forever.
“We recorded a great win against Hapoel, but we know we must beat Ramat Hasharon on Saturday,” Azriel added. “Our commitment is far greater now and the level of expectation has naturally risen.”
Hapoel, which visits Maccabi Netanya in the official inauguration of its new stadium on Sunday, missed a chance to move tied on points with league leaders Ashdod SC and Maccabi Tel Aviv at Teddy.
Ashdod, which is ahead of Maccabi on goal difference, faces a tricky visit to Hapoel Beersheba on Saturday.
Beersheba has won just once in seven matches, but it has also only lost once, drawing five times so far this season.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will be far more confident of making it seven wins in eight matches when it hosts Hapoel Ramat Gan on Saturday ahead of the much-anticipated derby against Hapoel.
Also Saturday, Bnei Sakhnin hosts Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Acre visits champion Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which is winless in its past five league games. Maccabi Haifa, which has claimed just one win this season, hosts Bnei Yehuda on Monday.