Hap TA-Betar, Haifa derby await in State Cup quarters

Hapoel beat Betar in the last eight of the cup last season on its way to lifting the trophy and will surely like its chances against struggling Jerusalem at Bloomfield Stadium.

March 4, 2011 06:40
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Dor Micha (right).

Maccabi Tel Aviv 311. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Hapoel Tel Aviv will host Betar Jerusalem in the State Cup quarterfinals, while Maccabi Haifa was handed a local derby tie against Hapoel Haifa at Thursday night’s draw at Israel Football Association headquarters at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.

Hapoel beat Betar in the last eight of the cup last season on its way to lifting the trophy and will surely like its chances against struggling Jerusalem at Bloomfield Stadium.

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The quarterfinals will take place on April 20, but Hapoel and Betar will meet long before that, with the two to face off at Teddy Stadium in Premier League action on Monday night.

The two other last eight encounters will see Maccabi Netanya host Ashdod SC and Ironi Kiryat Shmona visit the only remaining National League club, Hapoel Ra’anana.

The most notable absentee from the quarterfinal draw was Maccabi Tel Aviv, which was knocked out of the competition in the last 32 by Hapoel Petah Tikva.

After spending over NIS 100 million in rebuilding its squad, Maccabi’s play this season has been bitterly disappointing.

Nevertheless, the yellow-andblue, which hosts Hapoel Acre on Saturday, finds itself just seven points back of leagueleader Hapoel Tel Aviv, and with point totals to be halved after 30 matches, will have a real chance to challenge for the championship if it can improve its performance significantly over the next couple of months.

“At the moment, Maccabi isn’t playing at the same level as the top two,” said Tel Aviv coach Moti Ivanir, who has won five of seven league matches since replacing Avi Nimni. “We have six difficult matches coming up before the championship playoffs and we will try and pick up as many points as possible so that the current gap doesn’t grow. If the players understand that they can challenge for the title than we have a chance.”

Ivanir has handed several of the club’s youth players their debuts in recent weeks, hoping to find someone who could inject enthusiasm into his dreary side.

“We have struggled to play well consistently for 90 minutes in our matches so far and one of our biggest problems has been the fact that I haven’t been able to find a starting lineup I can stick with,” said Ivanir, who will continue experimenting against Acre.

After a promising start to the season, Hapoel Beersheba has won just once in its last eight league matches and has fallen to 10th place in the standings.

However, Beersheba, which hosts Hapoel Haifa on Saturday, is still only three points back from the top six and coach Nir Klinger believes his team needs just one win to get back on track.

“This is a crucial match for us,” said Klinger, whose team was thrashed 4-0 by Kiryat Shmona in the last 16 of the cup on Tuesday. “We must show our fighting spirit because the next few games will all be very important.”

Also Saturday, Maccabi Netanya hosts Kiryat Shmona, Bnei Yehuda visits Ashdod SC, Maccabi Petah Tikva welcomes Hapoel Ashkelon and Bnei Sakhnin faces Hapoel Petah Tikva.

Maccabi Haifa hosts Hapoel Ramat Gan at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Sunday night.

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