Beitar shuts out Maccabi Tel Aviv to open season

Veteran Gal Alberman joined from Maccabi Tel Aviv, while Bulgarian Georgi Kostadinov and Brazilian Caio were also brought in to solidify the midfield.

August 21, 2017 05:03
3 minute read.
Beitar Jerusalem striker Itay Shechter scored two goals in last night’s 3-0 win at Maccabi Tel Aviv

Beitar Jerusalem striker Itay Shechter scored two goals in last night’s 3-0 win at Maccabi Tel Aviv in Premier League action in Netanya.. (photo credit: ARIEL SHALOM)


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Despite still searching for a new head coach, Beitar Jerusalem couldn’t have asked for a better start to the new Premier League season on Sunday, beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-0 in Netanya.

Beitar has been without a head coach since the sacking of Sharon Mimer last Wednesday, which came due to his ever-growing rift with owner Eli Tabib. Tabib isn’t supposed to be involved in the running of the club, serving a two-year suspension due to a ruling made by the Israel Football Association’s ownership transfer committee last summer following his conviction in June 2015 of assaulting a minor and of disruption of justice.

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With Tabib and Eli Ohana, who was hired to become Beitar’s top professional and administrative authority earlier this summer, taking their time in hiring a replacement, Jerusalem was guided on Sunday by Mimer’s assistant Gili Levanda.

Assuming it is indeed his only match in charge, it was nothing short of a dream come true, with Beitar outwitting and outplaying Maccabi.

Jerusalem seized control when Itay Shechter netted the opener in the 10th minute, scoring from the rebound of his missed penalty, and his second goal of the night with an excellent solo effort on 34 minutes all but clinched the points. Itay Vered put the icing on the cake in stoppage time to hand Maccabi its heaviest league defeat in more than two years.

Earlier Sunday, Bnei Sakhnin beat Hapoel Acre 2-1 on the road. Sakhnin sacked Brazilian- Jewish coach Jairo Swirsky before he even had the chance to guide the team in league action, appointing Felix Naim in his place.

Naim has coached the team for less than two weeks, but goals by Firas Mugrabi (28) from the penalty spot and Spanish defender Abraham Paz (68) secured a victory in his first match in charge, with Amit Bitton (89) netting the consolation goal for Acre.

On Monday, the new-look Maccabi Haifa faces its first test when it hosts Bnei Yehuda. The Greens have once more revamped their squad in the off-season, hoping to become a factor in the title race after being overtaken by Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba as the driving force in Israeli soccer over recent years. Since Elisha Levy spent four seasons at the club, winning two championships between 2008 and 2012, seven different coaches have come and gone over the past four years during which the team has woefully fallen short of expectations time and again.

Guy Luzon was hired in February, and after guiding the side to a sixth-place finish last season (the fourth consecutive year the Greens finished between fourth and sixth), has had the chance to build his own squad this summer.

Luzon has strengthened the defense with the recruits of Brazilian Allyson from Maccabi Petah Tikva, Omri Ben-Harush from Maccabi Tel Aviv, Cameroonian Ernest Mabouka and Israel international Rami Gershon, who is recovering from injury and won’t play on Monday.

Veteran Gal Alberman joined from Maccabi Tel Aviv, while Bulgarian Georgi Kostadinov and Brazilian Caio were also brought in to solidify the midfield. Maor Buzaglo, who is set to return from a serious knee injury at the turn of the year, is also expected to join the team, with Greek striker Stefanos Athanasiadis scheduled to undergo a medical before signing with the Greens on Monday.

With the likes of Omer Damari, Gili Vermouth, Dekel Keinan and Roi Kahat also continuing from last season, Haifa looks to have the depth and the quality to become a true challenger this season, although that also seemed to be the case in recent campaigns that all ended in dejection.

“We have patiently built our squad. We knew exactly what we wanted,” said Luzon.

“We have all worked very hard this summer and I’m very pleased with our squad.”

Despite the heavy investment, Luzon is trying to keep expectations in check.

“The one thing we can guarantee is that we will give our all to win every match,” added Luzon. “We need to remain humble and work hard in order to do the best we can.”

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