(photo credit: REUTERS)
After coming so close to the Champions League group stage, Maccabi Haifa returns
to the stark reality of the Israeli Premier League on Saturday evening when it
hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva in front of empty stands at Kiryat Eliezer
Haifa outplayed Belgian champion KRC Genk for large periods of
the Champions League playoffs, both in the first leg at home and in the return
leg in Belgium on Tuesday.
However, the Greens failed to kill off Genk at
National Stadium in Ramat Gan and couldn’t complete the job at the Cristal
Arena, falling to a 4-1 defeat in a penalty shootout following a 3-3 tie on
Haifa’s consolation prize is a place in the group stage of the
Europa League, but until it renews its continental campaign on September 15,
Elisha Levy’s side will be looking to bounce back from its Champions League
disappointment and boost confidence levels with comfortable wins in local league
The Greens couldn’t have asked for an easier opponent than the
bankrupt Hapoel Petah Tikva on Saturday, although Gili Landau’s men impressed
with their fighting spirit before dropping to a 3-1 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv
in the first weekend of the season.
Haifa thrashed Maccabi Netanya 4-1 on
the road in its first league match courtesy of four Weeam Amasha goals, and even
though it will not have any backing from its supporters on Saturday as a result
of fan trouble last season, it should still overcome Petah Tikva with
“We hoped to advance to the Champions League group stage, but we
couldn’t do it,” Haifa captain Yaniv Katan said.
“We are a strong club
and we will recover from this.
“This club has been through a lot of highs
and lows and sometimes you need to know how to take a loss like a
Betar Jerusalem will host Hapoel Acre at Ramat Gan in its first
match of the Premier League season on Saturday after its encounter at Hapoel
Beersheba was postponed once more on Wednesday following the security situation
in the south of Israel.
The double postponement of the match was a
blessing in disguise for Betar as it gave new coach Yuval Naim, who only
replaced David Amsalem last week, a few more days to get to know his squad and
prepare for his first game at the helm.
Acre began its season with a 2-0
win over Bnei Yehuda.
“We have had some good training sessions in recent
days and I’m very pleased with the squad, although we do need to make some
additions,” said Naim, whose team will host its home games at Ramat Gan until
the NIS 90 million renovation of Teddy Stadium is completed in
After having its encounter at Ashdod SC twice postponed, Hapoel
Ramat Hasharon will play its first ever top-flight match on Saturday when it
hosts fellow newly-promoted club Hapoel Rishon Lezion.
Rishon got its
league campaign off to an impressive start, beating Bnei Sakhnin 4-2 last week
in its first Premier League match since 2003.
Also Saturday, Beersheba
visits Sakhnin and Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which beat Hapoel Haifa last week, hosts
On Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv visits Bnei Yehuda and Maccabi Petah
Tikva welcomes Hapoel Haifa.
Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Ashdod on Monday.