Despite some impressive results, Beitar Jerusalem coach Benny Ben-Zaken is still under pressure entering Saturday’s encounter with Maccabi Petah Tikva at Teddy Stadium.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Beitar Jerusalem coach Benny Ben-Zaken is hoping another win against Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday night can help him finally win over the team’s supporters.
Beitar can climb to the summit of the Premier League standings for at least 24 hours with a victory over Petah Tikva combined with a Hapoel Haifa draw or defeat at Bnei Yehuda earlier in the day.
Ben-Zaken has come under intense scrutiny from Beitar’s management and the club’s fans ever since he was appointed five matches into the campaign. Even though Jerusalem has managed to maintain a place among the leaders, Ben-Zaken was summoned to a one-on-one conversation with club boss Eli Ohana in which he was reprimanded for the team’s poor play. The supporters have been on Ben-Zaken’s case almost from day one, with his hiring at the end of September catching most people by surprise, including the fans who had hoped for a bigger name.
Last week’s 3-1 victory at Ashdod SC kept Beitar within three points of leader Hapoel Beersheba, which will only be in action on Sunday when it visits Hapoel Ashkelon.
“We are hoping to pick up from where we left off against Ashdod,” said Ben-Zaken. “I believe the fans will be pleased if we put on a good show the way we did against Ashdod.”
Hapoel Haifa, which is one point back of Beersheba, returned to winning ways with last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva.
It faces a stern test against a redhot Bnei Yehuda on Saturday, with Yossi Abuksis’s team coming in on the back of a four-match winning streak, moving it up to sixth place, seven points behind first.
Elsewhere Saturday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Ra’anana visits Maccabi Netanya.
Maccabi Tel Aviv, which visits Bnei Sakhnin on Monday, announced on Thursday that Steve McClaren will be leaving the club. The former manager of the England national team spent the past five months as part of Jordi Cruyff’s coaching staff.