Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Maharan Radi (center) scored his team’s opener a 3-0 victory over Hapoel Kfar Saba.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
The bitter memories from last season’s State Cup final will live long in the memory of Hapoel Beersheba fans and players.
The unprecedented 6-2 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final at Haifa Stadium left the club without a title since 1997 and with scars that will likely never truly heal.
Beersheba returns to State Cup action on Tuesday when it visits Maccabi Kiryat Gat of the National League in the round of 32, looking to take a first step towards finally claiming the trophy after 19 years and leaving last season’s desperate disappointment in the past.
Premier League clubs begin their participation in the competition in the round of 32, which will be held over three days, starting from Tuesday.
Beersheba coach Barak Bachar is set to rest several of his starters on Tuesday, but the team’s deep squad ensures it will still be a firm favorite to advance with ease.
Former Israel internationals Shlomi Arbeitman and Ben Sahar are set to team-up in attack after receiving few opportunities this season due to injury and stiff competition.
Maor Buzaglo may also feature for Beersheba in what will be a special day for his family. Three of his brothers are also set to be part of Tuesday’s cup action, with Asi to play for Hapoel Ashkelon in its match against Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Almog Buzaglo and Bnei Yehuda to face Hapoel Acre in an all-Premier League showdown and Ohad to coach Ness Ziona in its encounter with Maccabi Netanya.
“The expectations from us are very high and that is natural,” said Maor Buzaglo. “We are facing a match in which we are the favorites and there will be no excuse if we fail to win. We want to compensate the club for what happened last season.”
Also Tuesday, Maccabi Petah Tikva faces Ironi Kiryat Shmona in another all-top flight encounter, Bnei Sakhnin visits Beitar Kfar Saba, Hapoel Haifa hosts Maccabi Kabilio Jaffa, Ashdod SC welcomes Maccabi Ahi Nazareth, Maccabi Yavne faces Hapoel Ramat Gan and Hapoel Katamon plays Hapoel Rishon Lezion.
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