Guy Luzon’s tenure as the head coach of Hapoel Tel Aviv couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start, but he is hoping to steady the ship when the team hosts Hapoel Ashkelon on Saturday..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Tel Aviv enters Saturday’s match against Hapoel Ashkelon at one of the lowest points in the club’s long history.
The record equaling 5-0 derby defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv six days ago left it without a win and a single place above the bottom of the Premier League standings after five matches.
The disarray on the pitch has been matched by the club’s shambolic running off the field.
Eli Gutman remains the club’s sports director despite the stern criticism he received after appointing Guy Luzon to replace him as head coach and moving up to the front office just five days before Hapoel’s heaviest defeat in the derby since losing by the same score-line over 46 years ago.
However, while the Hapoel side that lost 5-0 in January 24, 1970 was the reigning champion and would end up missing out on defending its title only by goal difference, the current Hapoel team is coming off a season where it battled relegation and is merely hoping to avoid a similar fate this term.
Luzon remained calm following the derby and said he is willing to shoulder all the blame for the team’s performance, even though he had only been with the squad for a few days.
“One way or another, I need to change the attitude of the players,” said Luzon. “You can lose, but you can’t give up and stop giving your all. My only concern is how do we bounce back from the derby defeat with a win. I have looked for challenges my entire life and this is a big challenge for me.”
Newly promoted Ashkelon has lost just one of its first five matches, but is also winless in its last four, failing to score a goal in the past three.
Beitar Jerusalem aims to rebound from its humbling first loss of the campaign when it hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba on Saturday. Beitar was thrashed 4-0 at Hapoel Haifa last weekend, leaving it with a single victory from its opening five matches.
“We will be ready for Kfar Saba and want to make up for the defeat to Haifa,” said midfielder Dan Einbinder. “We want to give the fans reasons for optimism.”
Also Saturday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Ironi Kiryat Shmona, Bnei Yehuda visits Ashdod SC and Hapoel Ra’anana welcomes Hapoel Haifa.
No matches will be held on Sunday and Monday due to Rosh Hashana.
Due to Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba’s participation in the Europa League group stage, the game between Maccabi and Bnei Sakhnin was brought forward to September 21 (Maccabi won 3-0), while the contest between Beersheba and Maccabi Petah Tikva will be played on October 15.
A moment of silence honoring former president Shimon Peres will be held before all of this weekend’s matches in the Premier League and National League.