Ran Ben-Shimon 390.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger )
You would have thought a 10- point lead at the top of the Premier League
standings would guarantee peace and quiet at a club like Ironi Kiryat
With the Toto Cup already safely locked away in the trophy
cabinet and the side to host Maccabi Netanya in the last 16 of the State Cup,
even an unprecedented treble seems possible for Kiryat Shmona, which only won
its first ever title last season.
However, the idyllic picture up north
was shattered in recent days with ego and money getting the better of the two
men in charge of Kiryat Shmona’s incredible season.
The source of the
friction is the expiring contract of coach Ran Ben-Shimon.
Ben-Shimon wants to leave his options open as long as he can, having one eye on
the Maccabi Haifa position, owner Izzy Sheratzky is determined to sign a coach
for next season before March.
The two met to discuss a contract extension
earlier this week and Sheratzky was enraged that no deal was struck, setting a
two-week ultimatum for Ben-Shimon while also revealing that the coach had asked
for a release clause should Maccabi Haifa come calling.
eventually met again on Wednesday and supposedly set their differences aside,
indicating that Ben-Shimon will sign a new deal after further discussions next
However, Ben-Shimon said on Thursday that there has been no
progress in negotiations and that the two only met to clear the air ahead of
Saturday’s league encounter at Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Kiryat Shmona could
see its lead cut to seven points by the time it kicks-off its match at the
Moshava Stadium against a Petah Tikva team which had won three straight matches
in all competitions under new coach Moshe Sinai before being thrashed 4-1 at
Maccabi Haifa on Monday.
Second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Bnei Sakhnin
earlier in the day, knowing a win could put a little pressure on Kiryat
However, while Hapoel is still dreaming of catching the
northerners, it needs to first and foremost beat Sakhnin to keep a hold of
Ashdod SC, which visits Maccabi Netanya on Saturday, is
only one point behind the Reds, with Sakhnin, which has won three of its past
four matches, just a further three points back.
The battle against
relegation hits a crucial juncture this weekend, with the bottom four facing off
Hapoel Beersheba, which is in 13th place, one point off the
relegation zone, hosts rock-bottom Hapoel Petah Tikva, while 14thplaced Hapoel
Haifa welcomes Hapoel Rishon Lezion, which is positioned just below
Betar Jerusalem, which is only two points above the relegation zone,
will be watching Saturday’s showdowns with interest ahead of its encounter with
Maccabi Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium on Monday in what will be Eli Cohen’s first
match in charge since replacing Yuval Naim.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ramat
Hasharon visits Hapoel Acre, while Maccabi Haifa goes to Bnei Yehuda on Sunday.Saturday on TV: Hapoel Tel Aviv vs Bnei Sakhnin (live on Sport 1 at 4:45 p.m.);
Maccabi Petah Tikva vs Ironi Kiryat Shmona (live on Sport 2 at 7:15 p.m.).