(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The 2015/16 Premier League season is set to start with a bang after the release of the new fixtures on Sunday revealed that Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv will renew their bitter rivalry in the first weekend of the campaign.
The season will begin on Saturday, August 22, with Beitar likely to host Hapoel at Teddy Stadium in their first match on Sunday or Monday.
“Everyone waits for the big matches and what could be better than opening the season against Hapoel Tel Aviv at Teddy in front of 30,000 fans,” said Beitar coach Slobodan Drapic.
“These types of matches are the reason we decided to become part of soccer in the first place.”
Another highlight of the first weekend will be the clash between last season’s runner-up Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Beersheba, which finished in third. New Beersheba coach Barak Bachar will travel up north to face the club which sacked him late last season, with furious owner Izzy Sheratzky claiming he had negotiated with Beersheba behind his back.
The two leading challengers for the title over the past two seasons will meet in the second weekend when Beersheba hosts three-time defending champion Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Maccabi starts its campaign with a home match against Bnei Sakhnin, with the first derby against Hapoel to be played in Week 9.
“We were handed a tough draw to begin the season with three away matches against top clubs in the first five games but we can’t complain as we will face every team at least twice,” said Maccabi Tel Aviv sports director Jordi Cruyff. “On the other hand, it’s great that we are opening the season at Bloomfield.”
Roni Levy begins his second tenure as Maccabi Haifa coach against newly-promoted Bnei Yehuda, which is back in the top flight after a one-year absence.
“It has been proven that newly promoted teams always struggle to start the season,” said Bnei Yehuda coach Yossi Abuksis. “It will be especially challenging to play Maccabi Haifa but at the end of the day you play every team twice.”