Soccer: Kiryat Shmona extends gap over Beitar, sets sights on 2nd place

Ironi Kiryat Shmona striker Rodgers Kola scores the only goal of the match in the 66th minute.

Rodgers Kola (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Rodgers Kola
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona is on the verge of qualifying for European competition after moving tied with Hapoel Beersheba in second place in the Premier League standings with Monday night’s 1-0 win at home over Maccabi Haifa. Rodgers Kola scored the only goal of the match in the 66th minute, tucking the ball in from close range while lying on the ground.
Haifa had its chances to equalize, but Kiryat Shmona’s Shir Tzedek cleared the ball from the line in the 86th minute and Idan Vered hit the post on the rebound.
“We have effectively secured our place in Europe and now our goal is to finish as the runner-up,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Barak Bachar after his team claimed just its second win from the past 10 matches.
Haifa remained in fifth place, three points behind Beitar Jerusalem in fourth, which could be good enough for European qualification should Maccabi Tel Aviv or Hapoel Beersheba lift the State Cup and finish in the top three.
Hap TA hires Mendiondo to coach Elsewhere, Hapoel Tel Aviv announced on Monday the appointment of Spaniard Cesar Mendiondo as its new coach starting from next season.
Earlier in the day, Hapoel notified current coach Eli Cohen that he would not be handed a contract extension. Cohen replaced Asi Domb late in January after the club had found itself mixed up in the battle against relegation.
Hapoel effectively secured another season in the top flight with Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Hapoel Ra’anana, sitting nine points clear of the relegation zone with just three matches to play.
Cohen hoped he had earned another season at the club by guiding Hapoel to safety, but Amir Kabiri and Adi Krispin, who are set to take over the club from current owner Haim Ramon, always planned on bringing in a new coaching staff and finalized the deal with Mendiondo on Monday.
The 48-year-old held assistant roles with Atletico Madrid for six years and under Luis Aragones with the Spain national team, with his last job being at AD Torrejon of the Spanish fourth division.