Despite sitting in 2nd, Mac TA has left a lot to be desired

With the highest budget in the league by far, Nimni's men have disappointed.

November 19, 2010 00:43
2 minute read.
YOAV ZIV (above) and Maccabi Tel Aviv will be look

Ziv 311. (photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)

Despite the fact that it’s only two points from the top of the Premier League standings, Maccabi Tel Aviv should be far from pleased witha the way its campaign has gone so far.

Much of the criticism Maccabi has faced has stemmed from the fact that the yellow-and-blue’s budget is by far the highest in the league, more than double of the likes of Maccabi Haifa.

The expectations from Avi Nimni’s men were sky high from day one, and their three losses to date – including last week’s 3-1 humbling at the hands of Hapoel Acre – are extremely disappointing.

However, a check of Tel Aviv’s six wins so far also raises many reasons for concern.

Not only have most of the team’s victories been far from impressive, but all six of them have come against sides currently situated among the bottom seven in the standings.

Maccabi can change that on Saturday when it hosts current leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Bloomfield Stadium.

“In a long season there are always ups and down so it is important we don’t blow things out of proportion,” Tel Aviv ‘keeper Liran Strauber said. “We try and learn from every defeat, but the media causes hysteria every time we lose.”

While Maccabi has underperformed, Kiryat Shmona has far exceeded expectations this season.

After treading through a three-match winless streak, Ran Ben-Shimon’s team got back to winning ways by beating Maccabi Netanya 3-0 last week.

“It is very nice to be in first position, but our goal is to improve as a team and be among the top sides when it counts,” Ben-Shimon said.

Maccabi manager Avi Nimni accepts that his team comes under close scrutiny, but refuses to dwell on the past.

“We have learned from last week and we are focused on the future,” Nimni said. “We have a strong team and we won’t allow anyone to drag us into a downward spiral. The team will improve with time and we remain optimistic.”

After claiming a surprise point at Hapoel Tel Aviv last week, Betar Jerusalem cannot afford to leave Teddy Stadium with anything less than three points when it hosts rock-bottom Hapoel Ramat Gan on Saturday.

Betar gave its fans some reasons for optimism with its performance at Bloomfield, and will be a firm favorite to register its first win since September against a Ramat Gan side which has lost six straight matches and sacked coach Shlomi Dora on Sunday, replacing him with Tzvika Tzemach.

Hapoel Tel Aviv won five consecutive games before drawing with Betar, but will be confident of taking all three points when its visits Bnei Sakhnin on Saturday.

Sakhnin recorded its first victory of the season on Monday, beating Hapoel Petah Tikva 1-0.

Also Saturday, Maccabi Netanya hosts Bnei Yehuda, Hapoel Petah Tikva visits Ashdod SC and Maccabi Petah Tikva welcomes in-form Hapoel Acre, which has won four straight matches, scoring three goals in each encounter.

Hapoel Beersheba hosts Hapoel Ashkelon on Sunday, with Maccabi Haifa playing Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Monday.

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