Mac TA looks to cut gap on Beersheba in front of new coach Lito

“I think it is normal and I think it is obvious that part of integrating a new coach is to give him as much information as possible."

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February 13, 2017 01:28
1 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv winger Tal Ben-Haim scored the only goal of last night’s 1-0 win over Maccabi Petah

Maccabi Tel Aviv winger Tal Ben-Haim scored the only goal of last night’s 1-0 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva in the first leg of the State Cup quarterfinals. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s new head coach Lito Vidigal will watch his team from the stands for the first time when it visits Maccabi Petah Tikva on Monday night, aiming to close back within five points of Premier League leader Hapoel Beersheba.

Maccabi owner Mitch Goldhar will also be in Petah Tikva, attending a match for the first time this season. Sports director Jordi Cruyff will guide the side for the last time, looking to claim an eighth win in nine games since replacing Shota Arveladze.

Lito, 47, a former national team player and coach of his native Angola, joins Maccabi from FC Arouca of Portugal where he has been coaching since 2015. Lito, who was handed a deal until the end of 2017/18, began his coaching career in 2004, with his biggest success to date coming at Arouca.

He guided the team to promotion to the Portuguese top flight before qualifying for European competition last season with a surprise fifth-place finish.

“We need to give him time to get to know the players,” said Cruyff on Sunday.

“I think it is normal and I think it is obvious that part of integrating a new coach is to give him as much information as possible. We are in a very important period of the league so my job is to spend maximum time to help him wherever necessary until he is ready to make his own decisions.”

Third-place Petah Tikva is two points behind Maccabi and is unbeaten in its last 10 league matches. The teams will be meeting for the second time in five days, with Maccabi defeating Petah Tikva 1-0 in the first leg of the State Cup quarterfinals last Wednesday.

On Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv moved within three points of safety, beating Ashdod SC 2-0 via goals from Shahar Hirsh (64) and Ezechiel N’Douassel (86). Hapoel remains in last place, but can already climb out of the relegation zone next weekend despite being deducted nine points.


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