Maccabi Tel Av iv players were outraged with referee Ivan Kruzliak of Slovakia following last Thursday’s 4-3 defeat to Zenit Saint Petersburg in Europa League action. However, their capitulation against the Russians was of their own doing, and could haunt them for the entire season..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
The Premier League title race is in danger of turning into a Hapoel Beersheba procession should Maccabi Tel Aviv’s crisis last any longer.
Maccabi enters the weekend eight points back of Beersheba, with its title challenge collapsing over recent weeks. The yellowand- blue has won just one of its past five league matches, failing to score a goal in four of those games.
Coach Shota Arveladze is in serious danger of losing his job, but is looking forward to making changes to the team’s squad in the January transfer window, assuming he still has his job by then.
Sports director Jordi Cruyff already has plans in place, regardless of the identity of the coach.
“You never win the league in November but you can lose the league in November,” Cruyff told the club’s website last week.
“It has been a difficult transition [this season]. We lost numerous players and we knew we would feel it in the squad. We really lost leadership players with experience.
Of course, you hope that the other players stand up and take those positions but that is not happening the way we hoped for and wanted.”
The shock 1-0 loss to Bnei Yehuda on Sunday was Maccabi’s third league defeat of the season, and was followed by a 1-0 setback at Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Wednesday, sending the yellowand- blue packing from the Toto Cup at the quarterfinal stage.
Maccabi has an ideal opportunity to get back to winning ways on Saturday, hosting rock-bottom Hapoel Ashkelon.
Ashkelon hasn’t taken three points since the first weekend of the season, a 10-match winless streak. Yuval Naim’s team has picked up just one point from its past four games, amassing a humbling combined goal difference of 3-15.
Beersheba will got for its eighth straight win when it hosts Ashdod SC. The reigning champion has a 24-2 goal difference over its current winning streak, but Ashdod comes in with a six-match unbeaten run, holding Maccabi Haifa to a 1-1 draw last Saturday.
Both Beersheba and Ashdod progressed to the Toto Cup semifinals on Wednesday, joining Hapoel Haifa and Kiryat Shmona.
Kiryat Shmona will be guided by coach Tomer Kashtan for the first time in league action when it hosts Hapoel Haifa on Saturday.
With the team holding a comfortable lead over Ashkelon last Saturday, Kiryat Shmona owner Izzy Sheratzky announced on live radio that he will fire coach Benny Ben-Zaken as he refused to accept his instructions to start with certain players, such as Ahmed Abed.
Ben-Zaken only guided Kiryat Shmona for three matches, winning two of them, after Sheratzky had sacked Moti Ivanir following the team’s poor start to the campaign.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Petah Tikva hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba and Hapoel Ra’anana visits Bnei Sakhnin. Bnei Yehuda faces Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday, while Maccabi Haifa welcomes Beitar Jerusalem on Monday.