Hapoel Tel Aviv 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Tel Aviv will welcome back coach Eli Gutman on Saturday, hoping the
return of its mentor will help it bounce back from Monday’s shock Premier League
defeat against Betar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium.
Gutman hasn’t guided
Hapoel in over six weeks after suffering a heart attack in the morning of his
team’s match against Maccabi Netanya on January 29.
Tel Aviv won four of
six league encounters in his absence, including a 4-1 thrashing of Maccabi
Haifa, but Gutman’s return comes at the perfect time for the reigning champion
after its disappointing performance in the 1- 0 defeat at Teddy.
had no answer for Betar’s defensive set up and never came close to equalizing
after Samuel Yeboah gave the hosts the lead in the 72nd minute.
last few weeks it seems as if you have lost your patience,” Gutman told his
players on Thursday. “We need to return and play our regular game against
Tel Aviv’s first defeat in 13 league matches left it two points
back of league-leader Maccabi Haifa, but the Reds will expect to return to the
top of the standings for at least 48 hours with a win over Bnei Sakhnin at
Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday.
Maccabi Haifa doesn’t play until Monday
night when it visits Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
won just once in its past six matches, but it has also only lost twice in that
stretch, and climbed out of the relegation zone last week with its second
Betar’s victory over Hapoel, its first after five winless
matches, released a lot of pressure at the struggling club, but it will mean
little if Jerusalem fails to overcome rock-bottom Hapoel Ramat Gan at Winter
Stadium on Saturday.
“We have been through a very rough period, but I’m
happy we ended it against Hapoel,” Betar midfielder Idan Tal said. “We thought
we would be among the top teams this season and we have shown what we are
capable of by not losing in our matches against Hapoel and Haifa so far. We will
now have to bring the same determination to the games against the teams closer
to us in the table.”
Ramat Gan has won just once in 25 matches this
season, losing five of its last six contests.
Despite dropping two
important points against Hapoel Acre last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv is still only
eight points back of first position, a bridgeable gap when you consider that
point totals will be halved after 30 matches ahead of the championship
However, Moti Ivanir’s players face a stern test on Saturday
when they visit Ran Ben-Shimon’s Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Kiryat Shmona is in
fourth place, eight points behind the yellow-andblue, but has faltered in recent
weeks, winning just once in its last five matches.
lost control of last week’s match, but I believe things will change,” Ivanir
said. “We know we are playing a very good side in Kiryat Shmona, but we need to
think like a big team and believe we should win every match we
Hapoel Beersheba coach Nir Klinger will be hoping to prove he
deserved the contract extension he was given this week when his team visits the
sorry Hapoel Ashkelon on Saturday.
Some Beersheba fans were calling for
Klinger’s head in recent weeks, with the team losing three of its last four
matches, failing to score a goal in its past three.
However, club owner
Alona Barkat responded to the calls from the crowd by extending Klinger’s
contract until the end of next season, but even she will surely not accept
anything but a victory over Ashkelon, which has lost six straight contests by a
combined 2- 15 goal difference.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Petah Tikva hosts
Ashdod SC and Maccabi Petah Tikva visits Hapoel Acre, with Bnei Yehuda welcoming
Maccabi Netanya on Sunday.