Hap Petah Tikva looks to keep fighting spirit alive

Should Hapoel Petah Tikva manage to avoid relegation from the Premier League it will accomplish a feat even its most optimistic fan deemed impossible six months ago.

February 24, 2012 04:04
2 minute read.
Guy Tzarfati

Guy Tzarfati_390. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)


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The great escape?

How about the greatest escape?!

Should Hapoel Petah Tikva manage to avoid relegation from the Premier League it will accomplish a feat even its most optimistic fan deemed impossible six months ago.

Petah Tikva’s fate seemed to be sealed even before the first kick of the season.

In fact, Petah Tikva was already sent to the National League last summer due to its disastrous financial state.

However, the Israel Football Association’s high court decided to reinstate the team to the Premier League just a week before the start to the season, although it didn’t cancel the nine-point deduction it was handed for going into administration.

Petah Tikva is still fighting that decision, with its appeal to the Israel Supreme Court set to be heard on March 28.

The club knows it has little chance of a reprieve considering the District Court has already emphatically rejected its request to overturn the IFA’s ruling.

However, the management is simply emulating the fighting spirit its players have shown on the field, with Petah Tikva closing to within eight points of safety last week thanks to a dramatic 2-1 victory over Hapoel Beersheba.

Despite not having a proper pre-season preparation and taking a 30 percent cut in their salary to help the club remain afloat, Petah Tikva players have shown no resentment on the field, instead playing their hearts out for a club which still holds the local record of winning five straight league championships (1959-1963).

With 11 matches left until the end of the season and an eight-point deficit to close, Petah Tikva is still extremely likely to be relegated.

However, two straight wins have given Gili Landau’s men real hope of achieving the impossible ahead of Saturday’s visit to Ashdod SC.

“We have been showing positive signs for a while and it is a real psychological boost to have managed to win two straight matches,” Landau said.

“We made a statement with the win in Beersheba last week. The league is a marathon and you need to show stamina. I hope that we can eventually accomplish the implausible.”

Petah Tikva will also need help from its rivals to maintain its top-flight status and it will be crossing its fingers that Hapoel Rishon Lezion, which is three points ahead of it, falters against Maccabi Netanya on Saturday and that Beersheba’s visit to Maccabi Petah Tikva ends in defeat.

Betar Jerusalem and Hapoel Haifa are tied on 25 points just above the relegation zone, with Betar to visit Maccabi Haifa on Sunday and Hapoel Haifa to face Bnei Sakhnin on Monday.

Meanwhile, leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona will look to maintain its 12-point gap when it hosts Bnei Yehuda on Saturday, while second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv goes to Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.

Also Saturday, Maccabi Tel Aviv welcomes Hapoel Acre.

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