Maccabi Haifa will be playing just its second Premier League match of the season
when it hosts Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Saturday evening, but the pressure is
already on Reuven Atar’s men after their defeat to Maccabi Tel
Haifa was impressive at times at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday, but
it still dropped to a 2-1 loss to Tel Aviv, and faces a very tricky showdown
against the reigning-champion at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on
Kiryat Shmona needed a 94th-minute winner from Salah Hasarma to
claim a 3-2 win over Betar Jerusalem last Saturday and will be looking to
recover from its Champions League exit when it visits Kiryat
Kiryat Shmona was knocked out by BATE Borisov (3-1 on aggregate)
after drawing 1-1 at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Tuesday, but can find
consolation in the Europa League group stage for which its qualified by reaching
the playoff round.
The likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Inter Milan are
among the many illustrious clubs Kiryat Shmona could be drawn with on Friday,
with the six matches of the group stage to run from September 20 to December
A day after suffering disappointment on the field, Kiryat Shmona also
experienced defeat off it when an arbitrator ruled on Wednesday that
international defender Eitan Tibi will be able to move to Maccabi Tel Aviv for
just 350,000 euro.
The Tibi deal capped a very busy week on the transfer
mark for the yellow-and-blue, which visits Maccabi Netanya in its second league
match on Monday.
Maccabi signed 31-year-old Ivory Coast defender Steve
Gohouri on Tuesday, while receiving around 2 million euro for Senegalese striker
Moussa Konate’s move to Russian club FC Krasnodar last week and another 1
million euro from the transfer of Emmanuel Mayuka from Young Boys Bern to
English Premier League club Southampton.
Mayuka, who moved to Southampton
for a fee believed to be in the region of five million euros, joined Bern in
2010 from Maccabi, which inserted a clause in the agreement granting it a 20
percent stake of the striker’s next transfer.
After the heartbreaking
defeat in Kiryat Shmona, Betar Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Beersheba at Teddy Stadium
on Saturday night.
Betar will be without coach Eli Cohen for its next two
matches following his outburst in Kiryat Shmona, while midfielder Dario
Fernandez will miss four games after being found guilty of improper conduct and
insulting referee Eitan Shmuelevitch by the Israel Football Association’s
Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda hosts Hapoel Ramat Gan,
Ashdod SC visits Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon welcomes Hapoel
Hapoel Tel Aviv, which will also be drawn in the Europa League
group stage on Friday, hosts Hapoel Haifa on Sunday.
Tel Aviv advanced to
the group stage on Thursday with a 4-0 win over F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg at
Hapoel, which had all but booked its progress with a
3-1 win on the road last week, scored four times in 20 second-half minutes to
run away with the encounter.