|Siraj Naser_370.(Photo by: Adi Avishai)|
Pressure mounting for Hap Beersheba as Petah Tikva looms
By ALLON SINAI
Siraj Naser’S sixth league goal of the season wasn’t enough for Hapoel Beersheba to avoid defeat to Hapoel Acre.
Two weeks ago it seemed that only a dramatic collapse could deny Hapoel
Beersheba another season of Premier League soccer.
However, one defeat
combined with two straight Maccabi Petah Tikva wins have increased the pressure
dramatically on Beersheba ahead of Tuesday’s match at Ironi Ramat
Beersheba holds just a three-point cushion over Petah Tikva in
the battle against relegation.
A Petah Tikva victory at Hapoel Acre on
Tuesday combined with a Beersheba loss will send the southerners into the bottom
three ahead of the final weekend of the season.
Petah Tikva looked all
but doomed two weeks ago when the Israel Football Association’s High Court
reversed its previous decision and deducted the club three points for its
involvement in March’s brawl at the Moshava Stadium.
However, it moved to
within three points of safety on Saturday following its 2-1 win over Hapoel
Rishon Lezion and Beersheba’s 3-1 defeat to Acre.
“We are fighting for
our lives and can’t afford to play the way we did on Saturday,” Beersheba owner
Alona Barkat told her players on Monday.
“Everyone knows how important
this club is to me and I expect you to give your all against Ramat
Hapoel Haifa has also still got work to do to maintain its
top-flight status, holding just a four-point cushion on the relegation zone
after only managing a 1-1 draw against Ramat Hasharon on Saturday.
can secure its survival on Tuesday with a victory at Betar Jerusalem, which has
won eight straight matches.
Also in the relegation playoffs, Hapoel Petah
Tikva hosts Hapoel Rishon Lezion in an encounter between two teams already
preparing for life in the National League.
Hapoel Tel Aviv can book a
Europa League berth with a win over Maccabi Netanya at Bloomfield Stadium on
Hapoel, which can also qualify for continental competition by
winning the State Cup for the third consecutive year next week, will guarantee
itself a top-three finish with three points against Netanya, which needs a win on
Tuesday to maintain a realistic hope of playing in Europe next
Also Tuesday, Bnei Sakhnin welcomes Ashdod SC.
Wednesday, third-placed Bnei Yehuda hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv, while Maccabi Haifa
visits champion Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Kiryat Shmona officially signed Gili
Landau as its next coach on Monday.
Landau, who celebrated his 54th
birthday on Monday, began coaching in 1991 at Hapoel Bat-Yam after an
illustrious playing career, but apart from a few matches in charge of Hapoel Tel
Aviv at the start of the 2004/05 season, has never guided a top
Despite spending the entire season at the foot of the table as
Hapoel Petah Tikva coach after beginning the campaign with a nine-point
deduction, Landau has received plenty of praise for his work, convincing Kiryat
Shmona owner Izzy Sheratzky to bring him in as Ran Ben-Shimon’s replacement.