Just over a year since he retired from active play, Arik Benado was handed the
chance of a lifetime on Sunday when he was officially announced as the new
Maccabi Haifa coach.
Benado worked as an assistant to Elisha Levy in the
2011/12 campaign following his retirement and began this season as the club’s
youth team coach.
However, following the sacking of Reuven Atar less than
two weeks ago, Benado was promoted to guide the senior side on an interim basis
and was given the job until the end of the season on Sunday after the Greens
failed to complete the signing of their top-target Ran Ben-Shimon.
is the happiest day of my life,” Benado told the club’s official
“I am proud and privileged to be the coach of Maccabi Haifa and
from this moment on I’m focused on the most important job I have been given
since I became involved in soccer.
“I thank President Jacob Shahar and
the management for the faith they have shown in me and will do my all so that
this club will succeed.”
After arriving at Haifa this past summer with
sky-high expectations, being one of the club’s most beloved players, Atar was
sacked just nine matches into the league season, with the Greens picking up only
seven points, winning a single game.
Haifa didn’t fare much better last
week with Benado on the sidelines, drawing 0-0 against Bnei Sakhnin.
like Atar, Benado is also one of Haifa’s all-time greatest players, first
establishing his place with the senior side in the 1993/94 season. He made a
total of 399 appearances for the Greens until his retirement in 2011, also
spending two separate stints with Betar Jerusalem (1994-96 and
Benado, who will celebrate his 39th birthday next week, ended
his career as the all-time leader in Premier League appearances (565) and still
holds the Israel national team cap record (94).
He has also got nine
championships and three State Cups to his name.
However, despite his
illustrious playing career he has almost no experience as a coach and inherits a
Shahar had hoped to name Ben-Shimon as Atar’s
replacement, but failed to reach a deal with his current club, AEK Larnaca of
The owner said on Sunday that the decision regarding Benado was
already made last week but was held up as he has yet to acquire a UEFA Pro
As a result, he will be joined on the bench by youth
department manager Shmulik Hanin, who has the required credentials.
was the natural candidate and we have already done something similar in the past
with Roni Levy,” said Shahar, refereeing to Haifa’s coach between 2003 and 2008,
who was also promoted directly from the youth team to the senior
“We considered bringing in an experienced coach for this difficult
We had at least four foreign candidates and several Israeli ones
and we looked into the option of Ran Ben-Shimon.
But we were stunned by
the sum Larnaca requested for his release.”
Benado’s first match as the
Greens’ full-time coach will aptly be against Betar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium
on Monday, the only team he ever played for other than Haifa.
been on fire in recent weeks, winning four of its last five matches to climb up
to fifth place in the standings.
Also Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts
On Sunday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona surprised Bnei Yehuda on
the road with a 2-0 win.
Youngster Ofir Mizrahi scored on his debut to
give the visitors the lead in the 24th minute and Shimon Abu Hazeira secured all
three points with a goal in stoppage time.
The win took Kiryat Shmona up
to seventh place with 15 points, just one point behind fourth-placed Bnei
Yehuda, which lost for the first time in four matches.