Taleb Tawatha 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Haifa took a significant step towards ending its 15-year State Cup
drought on Wednesday night, easily beating Beitar Jerusalem 3-0 at Teddy Stadium
to advance to the semifinals.
Haifa, which last lifted the cup in 1998,
completely dominated the sorry hosts and built on the excellent form which has
seen it take a stranglehold on the runners-up position in the Premier
The Greens joined Ironi Kiryat Shmona, Hapoel Ramat Gan and
Hapoel Rishon Lezion of the National League in the semifinals and are a clear
favorite to end their cup curse following Wednesday’s win.
30-minute delay to the beginning of the match due to heavy traffic jams in the
capital, it was Beitar which got off to the better start, playing with the
urgency you would expect from a team with its season on the
However, a superb team move in the 25th minute was capped by an
accurate Taleb Tawatha finish and Haifa never looked back.
effectively clinched the victory nine minutes into the second half, with Weeam
Amasha scoring from the penalty spot after Eyal Golasa was brought down in the
box by a reckless Kobi Moyal challenge. Substitute Dino Ndlovu poured salt on
Beitar’s wounds with a third goal in the 72nd minute and Ofir Kriaf capped
Jerusalem’s miserable night by being sent off five minutes from time after an
irresponsible lunge at Haifa’s South African striker.
Beitar hosts Hapoel
Ramat Gan on Sunday, entering the showdown eight points from its opponent and
the relegation zone. However, after picking up just two points from its past
seven league matches and being humbled by Haifa in the cup, Jerusalem could well
find itself dragged into the battle against relegation should it not register a
significant improvement soon.
”Anything can happen in this league,” said
Beitar coach Eli Cohen.
“We need to change this momentum and make sure we
end the season respectably.”
Haifa, on the other hand, can hardly stop
The Greens are close to locking up second place in the league
and European qualification after claiming 12 of their past 15 matches and it is
hard to see any of the three other semifinalists denying them the
“This was a tough match but it went according to plan for us,” said
Haifa coach Arik Benado, whose team trails Maccabi Tel Aviv by 10 points in the
league standings. “We are looking good and we just need to continue this
Earlier Wednesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv Sports Director Jordi Cruyff
did his best to stress that the yellow-and-blue has yet to clinch the
“Nothing is finished until it is finished,” he said in a
rare press conference.
“We have a good advantage but we need to continue
to fight until it is really done. It’s in our hands. We depend on ourselves at
But if you think it is over that is when the nightmare
Cruyff emphasized that coach Oscar Garcia is under contract for
next season, but could not guarantee that the Spaniard would remain at the helm
for another year.
“Coaches these days depend mainly on themselves,
because if you are successful than clubs will come knocking on your door,” said
Cruyff. “I think he is very happy here at the moment. I hope he stays. But I
think it will really depend on what teams come calling.”