Eli Ohana resigned as coach of Betar Jerusalem on Saturday night following a 2-1 home defeat to Hapoel Upper Nazareth in the Toto Cup.
Ohana was upset last week after Yediot Ahronot published excerpts from an interview with the club's new owner, Arkadi Gaydamak, in which Gaydamak said the coach was "not a leader" and that he would give him a few more months before letting him go.
Ohana decided to make the first move and after the game met with his players and told them that he was resigning.
"There's no point for me to stay in the current situation," he said at a press conference after the announcement. "Though Gaydamak told me that his words were taken out of context and also offered me any role that I'd like in the club, I decided to leave."
Ohana said that the resignation hadn't come because of the team's poor form and added that he had already made the decision on Thursday. He also revealed the happenings from the storm that broke mid-week after Gaydamak's remarks.
"I sat with Gaydamak face to face and he asked me to stay, but I had already made my decision. I don't have to explain what Betar Jerusalem means to me, I never thought about quitting, but today [Saturday] it was easier."
Ohana also spoke about the future for his now former team. "We began a process two years ago and this team is big enough and strong enough to become once again a force to be reckoned with in Israeli soccer." Regarding his future, he said, "I'm sad to be leaving and I hope that the coach who replaces me will help this team win trophies. This is the best thing that could have happened for me and for the team."
Ohana finished by adding, "There will be happier days for me, if not here then somewhere else."
This is not the first time Ohana has left Betar. Five years ago his contract wasn't renewed by then-new owner Gad Ze'evi after Betar lost in the State Cup final to Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Ohana, 41, is a symbol among Betar's loyal fans. He played 14 seasons with the club, which were only interrupted by a three-year European stint in Belgium and Portugal. His career highlight came in 1988 when he assisted on the only goal of the Cup Winners' Cup final against Ajax Amsterdam as tiny Belgian side Mechlen won its first and only European title.
After retiring as a player in 1999, he imideatly became coach at Betar. He has also coached Bnei Yehuda and Maccabi Petah Tikva.
The rumor mill about Betar's new coach is in full swing. The leading candidates to replace Ohana are former Maccabi Haifa and Panathinaikos coach Yitzhak Shum, national team coach Avraham Grant and his assistant Moshe Sinai. In the meantime Betar assistant coach Hanan Azulai will stand in for Ohana.
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