After experiencing disappointing nights in the Europa League, Maccabi Haifa and
Maccabi Tel Aviv turn their focus back to the local scene when they meet at
Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Monday night.
Haifa registered 20 attempts at
goal in its Europa group opener versus AZ Alkmaar last Thursday, but found the
target with only two of them and ended the night with nothing to show for its
efforts after Johann Gudmundsson gave the Dutch side a 1-0 victory with a
Maccabi Tel Aviv at least picked up a point after
drawing 0-0 with APOEL Nicosia, but the yellow-and-blue was no less frustrated
at the end of the game after Barak Itzhaki missed a stoppage-time penalty that
would have surely secured a win.
With Haifa also losing 3-2 at Ashdod SC
in its most recent league match three weeks ago, it enters Monday’s showdown in
danger of dropping to a third consecutive defeat.
A loss would see the
Greens fall six points behind the reigning champion after just three matches,
and Haifa coach Arik Benado is desperate to avoid such an early blow to his
team’s title chances.
“The matches with Maccabi Tel Aviv are always
intriguing,” said Benado.
“Tel Aviv is the champion and one of our rivals
for the title. We had plenty of time to forget about the defeat to AZ. This
match is especially important to us because we dropped points against
Tel Aviv has gotten its title defense off to a perfect start so
far, but required a Rade Prica stoppage-time goal to defeat Bnei Yehuda before
registering yet another lackluster display versus APOEL.
Tel Aviv hasn’t
beaten the Greens in Haifa since May 2004, but coach Paulo Sousa believes there
is no reason that barren streak shouldn’t end on Monday.
“I respect every
opponent, but this club’s mentality is to win every game,” said
“Haifa has started the season well, but if we play the way we know
we will have an advantage.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv finally claimed its first
league victory of the season on Sunday, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-1 at
Star midfielder Gili Vermut started his first match
for Hapoel since December 2012, but the hosts didn’t net the breakthrough until
Petah Tikva found itself down to 10 men.
Ivorian Zito was sent off three
minutes from the break after being shown his second yellow card and Roei Gordana
gave Hapoel the lead three minutes later after Petah Tikva’s defense failed to
clear a corner.
The Reds effectively clinched the win six minutes into
the second half when Itay Shechter ended his scoring drought and Bryan Gerzicich
scored Hapoel’s third in the 68th minute before Emmanuel Ogude (76) netted a
consolation goal for Petah Tikva, which dropped to a third straight
In other news, Hapoel Ramat Hasharon fired coach Rafi Cohen on
Sunday after the team began the season with three straight defeats.
Hasharon, which was the surprise package of last season, ending the campaign in
sixth place, lost 3-1 to newlypromoted Hapoel Ra’anana on Saturday and has
already conceded a league-high nine goals this season.
Cohen claimed on
Sunday that he wasn’t given a fair chance to succeed due to the club’s financial
struggles and poor management, adding that his bosses lacked his
Youth team coach Haim Shabo has taken charge of the team on an
interim basis.Tipsarevic said in a courtside interview after being mobbed by the
rest of Serbia’s squad.
“See you right here in November in the final, in
another epic encounter against the Czechs,” he added.
Serbia beat the
Czech Republic 3-2 in the 2010 semifinal in Belgrade before losing the 2012
quarter-finals 4-1 away.
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