Two days after signing a four-year contract extension, Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Dor Micha (right) set up his team’s opener in last night’s 3-0 victory over Bnei MMBE in the State Cup round-of-32..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv needed 70 minutes to break down the defense of Bnei MMBE of the fourth division on the way to the State Cup round-of-16 on Saturday night, while Hapoel Beersheba came from behind to beat Ahi Nazareth of the National League 2-1 thanks to Ben Sahar’s 83rd-minute winner.
MMBE kept Maccabi at bay until the 70th minute, with the yellow-and-blue finally breaking the deadlock through Barak Itzhaki before Aaron Schoenfeld (84) and Ofir Davidzada (85) completed the 3-0 win. With his team in danger of being dragged into extra time, Tel Aviv coach Jordi Cruyff made a double substitution in the 63rd minute, sending on Dor Micha, fresh off signing a contract extension until 2021, and Eyal Golasa.
Micha was responsible for setting up the opener, finding Itzhaki with an accurate pass from a set-piece.
Wajdi Kish, the coach of MMBE and a physical education instructor from Buq’ata, couldn’t hide his excitement despite the defeat.
“I’m proud of the players that they held Maccabi to 0-0 until the 70th minute,” said Kish, who had his photo taken with Cruyff after the match and received Maccabi captain Sheran Yeini’s shirt. “This is a match they will never forget. We proved today that our club has a future.”
Bnei MMBE HaGolan VeHaGalil only joined the Israel soccer league system in 2015, becoming the first senior team to do so from the Druze towns in the Golan Heights. MMBE is initials for the four towns the club represents: Mas’ade, Majdal Shams, Buq’ata and Ein Qiniyye.
After Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six Day War and following the passing of the Golan Heights Law by the Knesset in 1981, community leaders imposed a socio-religious ban on Israeli citizenship.
Only a small percentage of the Golan Druze are currently Israeli citizens, with many of the locals still choosing to hold on to their Syrian citizenship.
In Nazareth, Mohammed Khatib gave the hosts a shock lead in the 33rd minute, but Beersheba eventually equalized through Guy Melamed in the 70th minute and substitute Sahar headed in the winner seven minutes from time.
On Sunday, Hapoel Shfar’am of the third division hosts Bnei Musmus, the lone remaining fifth division team in the draw, in a match postponed from Friday.
Later Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv, which is in second place in the National League, hosts Maccabi Haifa in a repeat of the finals from 2011 and 2012.
The winner of the postponed match between Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Afula will be the 16th and final team to advance to the next round. The game in Kiryat Shmona was scheduled for Friday, but was postponed to a still unknown date due to the stormy weather.
Of the 13 teams to have already booked their place in the next round, seven are from the Premier League (Hapoel Beersheba, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Beitar Jerusalem, Hapoel Haifa, Ashdod SC, Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Ra’anana), four are from the National League (Hapoel Ramat Gan, Hapoel Kfar Saba, Hapoel Hadera and Hapoel Marmorek) and two play in the third division (Beitar Kfar Saba and Ness Ziona).