betar jlem hapoel tel aviv 248.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After the week-long international rollercoaster ride that saw the national team lose 10 to Latvia and then thump Luxembourg 7-0, local soccer returns to the fore on Saturday, with Betar Jerusalem looking to kickstart its season when it visits Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Itzhak Schum's team began with two disappointing 0-0 deadlocks, so is hoping to finally get off the mark, both in the wins and in the goals scored columns. Betar deserved to win its season opener against Hapoel Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium, but was very disappointing in the goalless deadlock at Bnei Sakhnin and faces an awkward encounter on Saturday.
Roni Levy's Petah Tikva has also drawn its first two matches of the season and wasn't far from defeating Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium in its last league match.
"We have struggled to score so far, but I believe that will end soon and the floodgates will then open," Betar striker Amit Ben-Shushan said. "It's very difficult to play in Petah Tikva, but we will be ready to win the match."
Ben-Shushan also spoke of his team's chances of winning the championship.
"The fact that Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv have done well in Europe is good not only for Betar but for the entire league," he said. "They might enter their league matches tired and unfocused and that can give other team an advantage. We are aiming to compete at the top of the league and I hope we will start winning soon."
Maccabi Haifa can go top of the standings for at least 48 hours on Saturday if it defeats Hapoel Ramat Gan.
Haifa needed late goals to claim victories against both Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Ra'anana in its first two matches of the season and faces another newly promoted side on Saturday.
Ramat Gan, which is so far undefeated this season, drawing against Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Beersheba, will be hoping to take advantage of the fact that Haifa's players will surely have Tuesday's Champions League group stage opener against Bayern Munich on their minds.
The Haifa players will enter Saturday's match in high spirits after being given a surprise $25,000 bonus in their September paychecks for qualifying to the group stage.
Maccabi Netanya will have an ideal opportunity to put its poor start to the season behind it when it hosts Ra'anana on Saturday. Ra'anana and Ahi Nazareth are the only teams in the league which have lost their first two matches of the season. Ahi Nazareth hosts Hapoel Haifa on Saturday.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Petah Tikva visits Sakhnin and Ashdod SC hosts Acre.
On Sunday, Hapoel
Tel Aviv, still winless this season, faces a tough away match at Beersheba.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Bnei Yehuda, which haven't dropped a point so far, face-off at Bloomfield Stadium.