Maccabi Haifa coach Marco Balbul.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Maccabi Haifa players were booed off the pitch on Sunday night after dropping to yet another dejecting defeat, losing 1-0 to Hapoel Ra’anana in Netanya.
Haifa remained just four points off the relegation zone after falling to its 10th defeat of the campaign, the most in the league together with Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Mamadou Thiam scored the only goal of the match in the 49th minute, making the most of Matan Ohayon’s woeful header back to his goalkeeper.
Ra’anana claimed its second straight win after beating Hapoel Beersheba last week, and climbed up to seventh place.
On Monday, Bnei Sakhnin welcomes Maccabi Netanya, which will be guided by coach Roni Levy for the first time, while Beitar Jerusalem will aim to bounce back from its shock State Cup exit at the hands of third division Hapoel Ashkelon when it hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium.
Rumors were rife over the weekend that Beitar coach Menahem Koretzki would be sacked even before Monday’s match. However, he will be on the sidelines at Teddy, although he may still be on his way out of the club regardless of the result after falling out with owner Eli Tabib.
Hapoel is three points back of Beitar, but is just four points off the relegation zone after winning only one of its past eight matches.
Hapoel addressed its recent struggles by bringing in three new players. Apoula Edel will start in goal, while strikers Amido Balde, who is on loan from Celtic, and Dudu Biton will team-up in attack.
Earlier Sunday, the draw for the State Cup last 16 was made at Israel Football Association headquarters in Ramat Gan.
Maccabi Haifa was paired with league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona in the tie of the round, which will be played at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
There will be only two more all-Premier League encounters, with Ra’anana hosting Beersheba and Hapoel Petah Tikva visiting Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Ashkelon is set to visit Maccabi Tel Aviv.
There will be at least two teams from outside the Premier League in the quarterfinals after Maccabi Yavne (National League) was drawn to play Shikun Hamizrach (III) while Hapoel Afula (NL) will face Ma’alot-Tarshiha (III).
In other matches, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba (NL) and Ashdod SC visits Ahi Nazareth (NL).