Yossi Abuksis 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
With its showdown against Maccabi Haifa just over a week away, Hapoel Tel Aviv
will be desperate to claim all three points when it visits Hapoel Beersheba in a
tricky Premier League match on Saturday night.
Hapoel has won eight of
its last 10 contests and another victory on Saturday will take it into first
position above Haifa, at least until the Greens host Hapoel Petah Tikva on
Even without coach Eli Gutman, who has been away from the team
for the past three weeks as he recuperates from a heart attack, Tel Aviv’s title
defense has remained on track, although its form has been far from
Hapoel needed two late goals to get the better of Maccabi
Petah Tikva on Monday to close back to within two points of Haifa and the Reds
will be hoping to regain last season’s form at Beersheba ahead of next week’s
With point totals to be halved after 30 matches ahead of
the final five games of the season once more this year, Tel Aviv and Haifa are
not overly concerned with opening a gap over their main title
However, both teams are aching to enter the championship playoffs
in first position as that would guarantee they host the side which finishes in
second place in what would likely be the title decider.
“I’ve told my
players that even though point totals will be halved we cannot afford to drop
points,” Hapoel assistant coach Yossi Abuksis said.
“What happened last
year with Maccabi Haifa was a miracle that occurs once in a 100 years. As far as
we are concerned every match is crucial because we want to finish in first
position and host Haifa in the playoffs unlike last season.”
set to return to the sidelines in time to face Haifa, Abuksis is expected to
take a back seat once more after this week. But the former Israel international
midfielder has no intention of remaining an assistant for much longer.
think Gutman is the best coach for Hapoel and he should coach it next season as
well,” said Abuksis, who is the favorite to replace Gutman should he leave to
guide the Israel national team or a club in Europe.
“After so many years
as an assistant it is time for me to move on and should Eli continue I will
leave for another team.
That is only natural.”
Hapoel is not the
only Tel Aviv team battling for top spot.
Maccabi Tel Aviv has won five
of its last six matches and is in the thick of the title race, trailing Hapoel
by just four points.
On Saturday, the yellow-and-blue hosts Hapoel Haifa,
which has won just once in its past five encounters.
“Hapoel Haifa has
proven that it is a good team, but at Bloomfield Maccabi needs to play well and
win,” Tel Aviv coach Moti Ivanir said. “We are still not playing as well as we
would like, but we have taken 16 of 18 points and we need to give the players
Betar Jerusalem will look to rebound from its first defeat
under Roni Levy on Saturday when it hosts Ashdod SC at Teddy
Betar lost 1-0 at Bnei Sakhnin last week, but will be confident
of beating an Ashdod side which has lost four successive matches.
have to fight for the points because we know that if we don’t defeat Ashdod we
will get mixed up in the relegation battle,” Jerusalem captain Aviram Bruchian
Also Saturday, Maccabi Petah Tikva hosts Hapoel Ramat Gan, Bnei
Yehuda visits Bnei Sakhnin and Maccabi Netanya welcomes Hapoel
Ironi Kiryat Shmona hosts Hapoel Acre on Sunday.