Luzon sent packing as Maccabi Haifa draws

Maccabi Haifa, which has triumphed in only one of its past seven games, ends the first round of action with only 16 points, its worst return at this stage of the season since the 1987/88 campaign.

December 10, 2017 01:07
3 minute read.
Guy Luzon Hapoel

Guy Luzon left his coaching job at Hapoel Tel Aviv after less than four months and joined Maccabi Haifa just one month later. (photo credit: ERAN LUF)

Maccabi Haifa’s worst start to a Premier League campaign in 20 years cost head coach Guy Luzon his job on Saturday.

Luzon offered his resignation to club owner Jacob Shachar and new technical director Mo Allach following the disappointing 1-1 home draw with Hapoel Ashkelon.

The draw left the Greens with just four wins from 13 matches this season, sitting in seventh place in the standings, 12 points behind leader Hapoel Haifa.

Maccabi Haifa, which has triumphed in only one of its past seven games, ends the first round of action with only 16 points, its worst return at this stage of the season since the 1987/88 campaign.

“I arrived at Maccabi Haifa to undertake a big challenge to overturn the past six seasons and experience a better year,” Luzon said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t achieve that.”

Nikita Rukavytsya had given Haifa the lead in the 62nd minute, but Josip Ivancic leveled the score 14 minutes later and the Green fans didn’t have to wait long after the final whistle to get their wish, with Luzon understanding he could no longer ignore the increasing calls for his head.

“If it is decided that I’m the problem I will leave,” Luzon said shortly before meeting the club’s bosses that was followed by the announcement of his departure. “I still believe in the players. I still believe in the team.”

Luzon joined Haifa in February, replacing Rene Meulensteen. He led the team to a sixth-place finish last season, and despite being given credit to rebuild the squad during the summer, Haifa once more got a season off to a disastrous start.

Luzon guided the Greens in 27 league matches in total, with the team winning only 13 of them and failing to find the back of the net in 14 of those games.

Luzon’s assistant Asaf Nimni will also leave the club, with Haifa not announcing any replacements.

Haifa appointed Dutchman Rob Maas as an assistant coach last week and he could be asked to take on a larger role, at least on an interim basis.

Meanwhile, Hapoel Beersheba can take sole possession of first place in the standings with a win at Bnei Sakhnin on Sunday after Hapoel Haifa was held to a 1-1 draw by Ashdod SC on Saturday.

Alon Turgeman gave Haifa the lead in the 42nd minute, with Blessing Eleke equalizing in the 58th minute.

Haifa moved to 28 points, one ahead of Beersheba and Beitar Jerusalem, which beat Hapoel Ra’anana 3-2 on Saturday.

Yossi Benayoun made just his second start for Beitar and helped set up the team’s second goal. The hosts had taken the lead at Teddy Stadium through Gaetan Varenne (27), with Itay Shechter (35) doubling the advantage after Benayoun’s build-up play.

Shimon Abuhazira (45) scored from the penalty spot to give Ra’anana a lifeline, but Brazilian Claudemir restored Beitar’s two-goal advantage with a penalty 13 minutes later and Ra’anana could do no more than limit the damage through Jordan Faucher in the 62nd minute.

Despite the win, Beitar coach Benny Ben-Zaken was once more booed by many of the team’s fans.

Maccabi Netanya missed an opportunity to make up ground on the summit on Saturday, losing 2-1 at home to Bnei Yehuda. Nerijus Valskis scored the winner in the 85th minute, with Diya Saba (76) equalizing for Netanya after the visitors had taken the lead through Ayid Habshi (36) Also Sunday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona welcomes Hapoel Acre. On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Petah Tikva.

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