Group stage agony finally over for Maccabi Tel Aviv

Three-time reigning Israeli champion entered the match with only pride to play for and fell to its sixth defeat in six matches.

December 10, 2015 06:11
2 minute read.
israel soccer

Dynamo Kiev’s Denys Garmash (left) scored the only goal in last night’s 1-0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv and Omri Ben Harush in Champions League action in Ukraine. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Maccabi Tel Aviv became only the third team ever to finish a Champions League group stage campaign without a point and with just a single goal to its name after dropping to a 1-0 loss at Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday night.

The three-time reigning Israeli champion entered the match with only pride to play for and fell to its sixth defeat in six matches, with its combined goal difference in Group G a miserable 1-16.

Denys Garmash scored the only goal of the match in the 14th minute in Kiev and the hosts had little trouble holding on for the three points, which secured their progress to the round of 16 for the first time in 16 years.

The only real consolation for Maccabi is that Eran Zahavi’s penalty in the 75th minute of the 3-1 loss to Porto at Haifa Stadium last month ensured the yellow-and-blue didn’t join the 2009/10 Maccabi Haifa as the only sides in the history of the competition to end the group stage without picking up a point or scoring a goal.

However, Maccabi, which is only the fifth Israeli team to reach the Champions League group stage, did join that Haifa squad as the only local sides to fail to collect a single point in an entire campaign.

In other Israeli soccer news, Bnei Yehuda announced the appointment of Yossi Mizrahi as its new coach in place of the sacked Yossi Abuksis on Wednesday. Abuksis was fired on Tuesday after his toxic relationships with owner Moshe Damio reached the point of no return. The two had fallen out after Damio ordered Abuksis to drop Ben Zhairi from the team and say he did so for professional reasons as his brother and former Bnei Yehuda player Liroy Zhairi was suing the club. Abuksis reluctantly left the player off the squad, but refused to take responsibility for the decision and reveled he was forced to do so.

As a result, Damio fired him and Mizrahi was already in place to guide the team in training on Wednesday. Abuksis guided Bnei Yehuda to Premier League promotion last season and leaves it in ninth place in the standings, three points from sixth and three points from the relegation zone.

The 62-year-old Mizrahi, who guided Beitar Jerusalem to the championship in 2007, had been out of work since leaving Maccabi Netanya in January.

“I’ve been a coach for 23 years and this was the first time I didn’t have a team to start the season,” Mizrahi said on Wednesday.

“With my record I should have sat at home for no more than eight days, not to mention 11 months. It is never pleasant to replace another coach, but that is life in soccer.”

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