Beitar Jerusalem striker Nikita Rukavytsya aims to find the back of the net once more tonight when his team faces Maccabi Petah Tikva in the Toto Cup semifinals in Netanya.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Beitar Jerusalem aims to move within one victory of its first title in six years when it faces Maccabi Petah Tikva in the Toto Cup semifinals in Netanya on Wednesday.
In Wednesday’s first semifinal, Bnei Yehuda plays Ironi Kiryat Shmona in Petah Tikva.
It may only be Israeli soccer’s second cup competition, and least prestigious piece of silverware, but Beitar can hardly afford to be picky, not lifting any trophy since the Toto Cup in 2010.
Jerusalem last won the State Cup in 2009, claiming its most recent Premier League championship the previous year.
Beitar has made third place its own in the standings so far this season, losing just one of its past nine league games. However, that one defeat came against Maccabi Petah Tikva, which is unbeaten in its past six games in league action.
Jerusalem also disappointed in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Hapoel Haifa and coach Slobodan Drapic is hoping for a significant improvement on Wednesday.
“We will have to work with the players on stability,” said Drapic.
“Our level of play has dropped over recent matches and we shouldn’t be playing like this. We have a good squad and we will use it in the Toto Cup semis.”
Forward Omer Atzili believes Wednesday’s match can prove to be a turning point.
“We haven’t looked good for several weeks and we need to work hard in order to improve,” he said. “We are disappointed we didn’t win on Saturday and I hope we will improve ahead of the Toto Cup semi against Petah Tikva.”
While Petah Tikva is unbeaten in the league in almost two months, it has only drawn its past three matches, including 1-1 against Bnei Yehuda on Saturday. Coach Ran Ben-Shimon has highlighted his team’s finishing in front of goal as its main weakness.
“We reached a lot of chances and I trust my players that they will soon learn to convert them,” he said. “Misses are part of the match.
We will try to add one or two players in the January transfer window.
I know exactly what player I want, but we’ll have to see what the owner and agents say. We will give it a lot of thought because we have a good team and only need some fine tuning.”