Beitar Jerusalem coach Guy Levy.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
After winning four straight matches to surge up to fourth place in the Premier League standings, Beitar Jerusalem has stalled over recent weeks.
However, despite a four-match winless streak, Beitar remains in fourth position, which now will be good enough to qualify for European competition at the end of the season after Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba advanced on Wednesday to the State Cup final.
Israeli soccer will once again have four representatives in continental competition next season – one in the Champions League qualifiers and three in the Europa League qualifiers.
The top three in the league and the cup winner are guaranteed a berth in Europe.
However, with either Maccabi or Beersheba to lift the cup while also effectively already clinching a top-three finish, fourth position in the league will also result in European qualification.
Beitar currently holds a three-point gap over both Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Petah Tikva with five matches to play and will be desperate to return to winning ways when it hosts Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Teddy Stadium on Saturday.
Despite only picking up two points from its past four matches, Beitar has displayed some promising form over the last month.
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Elsewhere on Saturday, the fight for survival continues, with the bottom two to face off when Hapoel Haifa (27 points) hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva (26). The bottom eight sides have just three more matches to play until the end of the season, with four teams still facing the real prospect of relegation to the National League.
Hapoel Acre (29), which climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time in more than five months last week, hosts Hapoel Ra’anana on Saturday. Acre is targeting a fifth win from eight matches after recording just two victories from its first 23 contests of the campaign.
Ashdod SC (30), which also remains in deep trouble after its winless streak reached 12 matches last weekend, visits Bnei Sakhnin.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Netanya.
On Sunday, Beersheba visits Maccabi Petah Tikva. Should both Kiryat Shmona and Beersheba lose, Maccabi Tel Aviv can clinch a third straight championship with a win at Maccabi Haifa on Monday.
Maccabi Tel Aviv announced it will hold its preseason camp ahead of the 2015/16 campaign in New York this summer and will face local MLS teams New York Red Bulls and NY City, as well as NY Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.
The yellow-and-blue hopes to attract big crowds from the local Jewish community while facing quality opposition ahead of the Champions League qualifiers. Maccabi also revealed on Thursday that it has signed a cooperation deal with UNICEF, which will see it play with the United Nations Children’s Fund’s logo on its shirt until the end of the season.
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