Kfar Saba escapes relegation; Bnei Yehuda finishes in fourth

Eli Ohana and Hapoel Kfar Saba still completed one of the most memorable comebacks in league history.

By SHARON SOLOMON
May 14, 2006 04:51
3 minute read.

 
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Eli Ohana and Hapoel Kfar Saba effectively did nothing in their final match of the 2005/06 Premier League season, but still succeeded in their mission to avoid relegation and complete one of the most memorable comebacks in league history. The club was in last place at the end of the second round (22 games), hired Ohana and the move paid off. Kfar Saba, playing against Maccabi Netanya at "The Box," suffered its second loss in 14 games following a lackluster performance, but Bnei Yehuda's win over Hapoel Upper Nazareth ensured that Ohana's squad finished 10th in the standings, thanks to a better goal differential than Upper Nazareth (minus-11 vs minus-22). Bnei Yehuda finished fourth and clinched a spot in next season's UEFA Cup competition. State Cup holder Hapoel Tel Aviv finished its domestic campaign with a bitter loss at the hands of Guy Luzon's Maccabi Petah Tikva and Ton Caanen's Maccabi Tel Aviv managed only a draw against Ashdod SC. The Premier League season comes to a close Sunday night when Luis Fernandez's Betar Jerusalem hosts Nir Levin's Hapoel Petah Tikva. Both teams' coaches will be vacating their positions following the season finale. The yellow-and-black will be without David Aganzo and Igor Mitreski, who have been released after failing to impress and also without key starters David Amsalem, Yoav Ziv and Amit Ben-Shushan. Maccabi Netanya 1, Hapoel Kfar Saba 0 Kfar Saba was the better team in the opening minutes but Netanya made the visitors pay in the 15th minute with a well-performed set piece. Alain Masudi lobbed a corner kick toward the unmarked Papi Kimoto, who was on target from close range. Eli Ohana's men came out determined after halftime and created many chances for Samuel Yeboah, but the Nigerian striker was unable to convert his chances in front of the goal. After hearing of Upper Nazareth's loss, Ohana was ecstatic. "The pressure affected our game and we were unable to implement our game plan," he told reporters. "I want to mention Bnei Yehuda and Maccabi Netanya, who gave it their most and proved to be commendable rivals." Upper Nazareth 0, Bnei Yehuda 1 Bnei Yehuda showed no signs of fatigue from the State Cup final earlier in the week and took the lead in the 27th minute when Moshe Biton converted from an Asi Baldut cross. The oranges had many more chances to increase the lead, but Reuven Oved and Eli Abarbanel were inaccurate in front of the goal. Nazareth was unable to duplicate its winning performance from last week against Betar Jerusalem and eventually lost the game after a display of uninspired football. Maccabi Petah Tikva 2, Hapoel Tel Aviv 1 Tel Aviv, which showed up without Yossi Abuksis and Shimon Gershon, was able to break the deadlock despite numerous attacks by the hosts. Elyaniv Barda lifted a cross into the box that was intercepted by Shai Abutbul, who jabbed the ball into the net in the 32nd minute. The "Luzons" kept pushing ahead and scored at the start of the second half thanks to an Andrei Caldeira drive from the edge of the penalty area that left Hapoel 'keeper Shavit Elimelech helpless. Rubel Sarsour completed the comeback in the 62nd minute when he headed in a Salim Toema corner that was probably his last assist for the Petah Tikva outfit. Ashdod SC 1, Maccabi Tel Aviv 1 Giorgi Demetradze was fouled in the box by Adir Tubul in the 24th minute and Maccabi Tel Aviv was awarded the penalty. Veteran forward Ofir Haim stepped up and sent the ball into the back of the net, giving the yellow-and-blue the lead. Ashdod struck back in the later stages of the game, thanks to a Yaniv Azran goal that came off David Revivo's corner kick in the 83rd minute. Bnei Sakhnin 2, Maccabi Haifa 2 Sakhnin surprised the league champion with an early goal when Haled Halaila converted from close range in the sixth minute of Friday's match. Tomer Hemed found the equalizer in the 18th minute. Roberto Colautti broke loose in the 49th minute and capped a brilliant solo move with a clinical finish. Abed Rabah leveled the score yet again three minutes later, enabling Sakhnin finish its disappointing season with a respectable result.

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