Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Eran Zahavi and Hapoel Beersheba defender Ofir Davidzada are set to clash once more when the Premier League leaders meet tonight at Bloomfield Stadium..
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Just four days after their volatile showdown in the State Cup semifinals, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Bnei Sakhnin renew their rivalry on Monday night in Premier League action at Doha Stadium.
An hour earlier, Hapoel Beersheba, which holds a one-point lead over Maccabi in first place, opens its match at Hapoel Ra’anana.
A Tal Ben-Haim winner with five minutes to play gave Maccabi a dramatic 3-2 win over Sakhnin in an enthralling cup affair at Haifa Stadium last Thursday, booking the yellow-andblue a meeting with Maccabi Haifa in the final next month.
However, what has dominated the headlines ever since has been the controversy surrounding Maccabi’s first goal of the match, with Sakhnin coach Yossi Abuksis being sent off for his protests after Tel Aviv continued play even though Ali Osman allowed the ball to roll out in order to receive treatment for his injury. Ben-Haim was the one who took the throw-in and was singled out by Sakhnin as the main culprit.
“Maccabi acted in disgusting fashion and I feel embarrassed for them,” said Abuksis in what was a relatively mild-mannered reaction compared to others at the club.
Maccabi coach Peter Bosz defended his players and insisted on Sunday that the encounter in Doha will be “all about football”.
“I think about football and I’m thinking about the first 30 minutes where Sakhnin had a lot of chances and where we could do better,” said Bosz when asked about the happenings in the cup semi. “We are five games away from the end of the season and we are one point away from Beersheba. We will try to do everything to win the game. The tactics are attacking and winning.”
Maccabi lost first place in the standings after only managing a 0-0 draw with Maccabi Haifa last week, while Beersheba beat Sakhnin 4-1.
While it has drawn its past four games at home, Beersheba is aiming to extend its road winning streak to seven matches on Monday ahead of next week’s clash with Maccabi in Tel Aviv.
Maccabi Haifa can secure Europa League qualification with a win over the yellow-and-blue in the cup final, but it will play continental soccer next season even should it lose assuming it finishes in fourth place in the league.
Haifa climbed up to fourth on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Beitar Jerusalem at Haifa Stadium.
Ludovic Obraniak scored the winner in the 21st minute, with Beitar, which has effectively secured third place, ending the game with 10 men following Jesus Rueda’s sending off in the 63rd minute. After two months out of action due to injury and a clash with the club regarding contract negotiations, Omer Atzili came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute.