Jerusalem striker Itzhaki confident Haifa can be caught

Jerusalem striker Itzhak

November 6, 2009 07:11
2 minute read.

Maccabi Netanya coach Reuven Atar will be hoping to get one over on his former club Betar Jerusalem on Saturday and kick-start his new team's season after an indifferent start to the campaign. Meanwhile, Betar and the rest of the chasing pack - Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Bnei Yehuda - will look to put some sort of pressure on runaway leader Maccabi Haifa before the reigning champion's match at Ashdod on Monday night. The Greens have looked in a league of their own so far this season, winning all of their eight games played, but, if Betar striker Barak Itzhaki is to be believed, things aren't going to stay that way. "At the moment, we're a bit far off first place, but the season is long and we're not worried, everything can still change," Itzhaki told reporters at Betar's training ground on Thursday. "Maccabi Haifa has a perfect record and is playing the best, but there are other teams that pose a threat to it, and we're one of them. At the moment it's early. But don't think they will succeed in maintaining their perfect record until the end of the season, and I hope they slip up soon," continued Itzhaki. "From out point of view though, we need to concentrate on ourselves and know that whenever Haifa stumbles, we must be there to close the gap." Itzhaki had some warm words for Atar, but said his affection for his former coach would be put aside for 90 minutes on Saturday. "Everyone knows the affection we have for Reuven Atar, not just me but all the players here, because despite everything, we had a good season last campaign, we managed to finish a very, very hard season with silverware… and he had a big part in this. We like him, but as they say, we'll carry on liking him after the game." Meanwhile, Bnei Yehuda is aiming to get back to winning ways after its disappointing draw last week against Hapoel Acre, and Guy Luzon's men will be expecting a boost from the return to their legendary home ground in Tel Aviv's Hatikva neighborhood. On Sunday, Trinidadian striker Scott Sealy will be hoping to put the spokes in the Hapoel Tel Aviv wheels in his debut for Sakhnin following his transfer from Maccabi Tel Aviv, but Sakhin will have to do the job without tough defender Bassem Ghanayim, who will miss the game due to a thigh injury. In other weekend action, Maccabi Tel Aviv wants to bounce back from Sunday's derby day misery as it hosts Roni Levy's Maccabi Petah Tikva, while Hapoel Beersheba will be expecting use the momentum from Monday's win against Ashdod as it travels to Maccabi Ahi Nazareth. Elsewhere, Hapoel Haifa will get another chance to end its dismal run by beating winless Hapoel Acre, and Hapoel Petah Tikva, hovering precariously above the drop zone, will be looking for breathing space with a home win against Hapoel Ramat Gan.

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