Maccabi Haifa striker Eliran Atar.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Maccabi Haifa’s disastrous start to the season went from bad to worse on Sunday, with the Greens remaining in last place in the Premier League standings following a 2-0 defeat at Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
After five matches without a win or a goal, Haifa finally got off the mark with a 2-0 victory over Hapoel Ra’anana.
However, it failed to find the back of the net for the sixth time in seven matches following another dejecting performance on Sunday, with goals from Eden Shamir in the 81st minute and Ofir Mizrahi in stoppage time taking Kiryat Shmona up to second place.
“Maccabi Haifa is in a very difficult situation and the players are under a lot of pressure,” said Haifa coach Roni Levy, who was supposed to help the team challenge for the title. “The players are working really hard and are trying. I understand that is sometimes difficult to see in our matches, but they have been training really well. There is a lot we need to correct, but we will overcome this tough situation.”
Kiryat Shmona registered its second straight win and is unbeaten in six matches since losing its league opener against Hapoel Beersheba, “The players worked really hard and deserve every credit,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Salah Hasarma. “We are still not playing very well but I promise we will look better in the future.”
On Monday, Beitar Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Beersheba at Teddy Stadium, with both teams aiming to climb up to second place with a win.
Jerusalem is flying high after beating Bnei Sakhnin for the first time in five years in what was its second straight victory after going winless in its first four matches. Beersheba defeated Maccabi Petah Tikva 5-2 two weeks ago and can close within three points of league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Nevertheless, coach Barak Bachar insisted on Sunday that his team is focused on its own perfor-mance and not on keeping pace with the yellow- and-blue.
“Every match is difficult, but there are no excuses,” said Bachar, who will be without the injured Maor Buzaglo and Ben Sahar. “This is only our seventh match of the season and there is still a long way to go. We are not thinking about Maccabi. Every team is going to drop points and we ultimately depend on ourselves.”