Hapoel Beersheba's Maor Buzaglo.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After proving it can contend with two-time defending champion Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium, Hapoel Beersheba needs to make sure it extends its home winning streak when it hosts Hapoel Ra’anana at Vasermil Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Beersheba had lost its four previous away contests against Maccabi by a combined goal difference of 1-14 before eking out a 0-0 draw on Monday, with goalkeeper Austin Ejide saving Eran Zahavi’s penalty in the 79th minute.
Beersheba remains in third place, just two points behind Maccabi, but its failure to claim all three points for the fifth time in its past six road matches leeaves it six points behind unbeaten league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which visits Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday evening.
Beersheba’s form at home is what has kept it within striking distance of the top, with Elisha Levy’s team targeting its seventh straight win at Vasermil on Saturday. The Southerners will also host Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Acre in two of their following three league games, giving them an ideal opportunity to close the gap on first place.
Despite being sacked by the club on Sunday, Haim Silvas is set to guide Ra’anana on Saturday following a farcical turn of events. Silvas was fired after Ra’anana, which is only kept out of the relegation zone by goal difference, drew 0-0 with Maccabi Petah Tikva last Saturday, extending its winless streak to nine matches, with the side scoring just a single goal over that stretch.
Haim Shabo had already started training the side earlier this week, but left after just two days and without even guiding the team in a match due to a financial disagreement with the management.
That led owner Asher Alon to plead with Silvas to return and he will already be back on the sidelines on Saturday.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Tel Aviv returns to Bloomfield after serving a threematch exile for its part in the derby debacle, when it hosts Bnei Sakhnin, while Hapoel Haifa visits Maccabi Netanya.
In other action, Beitar Jerusalem goes to Ashdod SC and rock-bottom Hapoel Acre, which signed Shlomi Dora as its new coach on Thursday to replace Alon Harazi, welcomes Hapoel Petah Tikva.
On Sunday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
Bolton Wanderers midfielder Mohamed Kamara, widely known as Medo, will arrive in Israel in the coming days, with Haifa looking to seal its first signing of the January transfer window.
The 27-year-old defensive midfielder from Sierra Leone has played for Bolton in the English Championship for the past two years and trained under new Haifa coach Marco Balbul while the two were at Partizan Belgrade in 2012.