Hap Tel Aviv ends nightmare year with loss

Ahead of decisive week for club’s future, Hapoel falls to 1-0 defeat to Mac PT; Mac Haifa held by Bnei Yehuda.

January 1, 2017 05:29
2 minute read.
Hapoel Tel Aviv players Samuel Scheimann (left), Ofer Verta (center) and Adi Gotlieb (right) and the

Hapoel Tel Aviv players Samuel Scheimann (left), Ofer Verta (center) and Adi Gotlieb (right) and the rest of their teammates were dejected following last night’s 1-0 loss at Maccabi Petah Tikva, which left the team three points ahead of the relegation zone ahead of a crucial week to its future.. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Hapoel Tel Aviv enters one of the most important weeks in club history on the back of another defeat, losing 1-0 at Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday.

Giddy Kanyuk scored the only goal of the match for Petah Tikva in the 68th-minute, leaving Hapoel three points above the relegation zone ahead of a week which could decide the club’s destiny.

Hapoel fans remained in the stadium long after the final whistle to cheer their team, knowing the club may not even exist by its next scheduled match.

“I have coached in Belgium and England, but I have never seen fans like this,” said coach Guy Luzon. “I guarantee that if the club finds a new owner we will avoid relegation. None of us want to leave the club and every player has been giving his all. This is a painful loss, but we won’t give up.”

Hapoel’s already dire situation took another turn for the worse last Tuesday after trustee Shaul Kotler announced that he hadn’t received any bids for the club. The Tel Aviv District Court approved earlier this month a request for a stay of legal proceedings due to debts estimated at over NIS 100 million. The trustees were then given two weeks to find a new owner to replace Amir Kabiri.

The trustees still have enough money to operate the club until Thursday (January 5), but should no bids be made by Wednesday’s court hearing, Hapoel will go into administration.

Hapoel is also facing the prospect of receiving a nine-point deduction as stipulated by Israel Football Association regulations even should a new owner arrive.

Elsewhere Saturday, Maccabi Haifa remained in fourth place, but its struggles continued with a 1-1 draw against Bnei Yehuda at Haifa Satdium. Eliran Atar had a golden opportunity to give the Greens just their second win in six matches in stoppage time, but his penalty was saved by Emilijus Zubas. Yonatan Cohen had given Bnei Yehuda the lead in the 50th minute, with Gili Vermouth equalizing for Haifa 10 minutes later.

Bnei Yehuda climbed out of the relegation zone for at least 24 hours, moving ahead of Ashdod SC on goal difference. Ashdod hosts rock-bottom Ashkelon, which is one point back, on Sunday.

Kiryat Shmona moved tied on points with Maccabi Haifa after extending its unbeaten run to six matches with a 3-0 victory at Hapoel Ra’anana.

Ezechiel N’Douassel netted the opener for the visitors in the 38th minute, with two goals in three minutes from Shlomi Azulay (72) the midfielder and Shlomi Azulay (74) the striker wrapping up the three points.

Hapoel Haifa moved seven points clear of the relegation zone with a dramatic 2-1 win at Hapoel Kfar Saba. Raz Cohen gave Kfar Saba the lead two minutes into the second half and Haifa trailed until Maxim Plakuschenko netted a stunning equalizer from the edge of the box in the 86th minute, five minutes after Kfar Saba lost Omer Fadida to a red card. The winner arrived three minutes into stoppage time courtesy of Hanan Maman’s header.

After going two straight league matches without a win for the first time this season, leader Hapoel Beersheba looks to get its campaign back on track when it visits Bnei Sakhnin on Sunday. Beersheba, which won the Toto Cup last Wednesday with a 4-1 victory over Kiryat Shmona, can increase its gap at the top to 10 points for at least 24 hours, with Maccabi Tel Aviv going to Beitar Jerusalem on Monday.

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