Mac TA interim coach Nir Levine_311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona will be looking to build on the momentum of its victory
against Hapoel Tel Aviv and strengthen its position atop of the Premier League
standings when it hosts Hapoel Haifa on Saturday evening.
1-0 victory over Tel Aviv, which took it above the Reds into first place, was
the team’s eighth in the past nine matches, extending its unbeaten streak to 13
What has been especially impressive about Kiryat Shmona’s recent
run is that it has managed to pick up all three points even in matches in which
it has played far from its best, something any team aspiring to win the
championship must master.
Kiryat Shmona coach Ran Ben-Shimon has been
careful not to talk up his team’s hopes of winning an historic title, but with
every week that passes and with every win his side claims, the mastermind behind
the surprising success is finding it more and more difficult to discard his
Hapoel Haifa will also be entering Saturday’s match on a
high, winning two games on the trot since Tal Banin replaced Nitzan Shirazi as
After beating the hapless Maccabi Tel Aviv in Banin’s first match
at the helm, the new coach guided his team to a stunning 3- 1 victory over
Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel’s first win in the derby in over 10 years.
considering Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa’s recent struggles, Kiryat Shmona
on the road currently presents the steepest challenge possible in the league,
something Banin will be well aware of.
Maccabi Tel Aviv can hardly
remember when it last won a league match, entering Saturday’s encounter against
Hapoel Petah Tikva at Bloomfield Stadium winless in its past six
Maccabi came tantalizingly close to picking up all three points
last week, conceding a stoppage time penalty in a 1-1 draw against Maccabi
Nevertheless, interim coach Nir Levine will surely be confident
the yellow-and-blue will finally triumph against rock-bottom Petah Tikva, which
has scored one goal in its last four matches.
Betar Jerusalem will be
desperate to stop its freefall when it hosts fellow-struggler Hapoel Beersheba
However, while Jerusalem has won just once in its past 11
matches, Beersheba has claimed two straight victories.
Ashdod SC, which is just two points off the top of the standings, goes for its
sixth consecutive win at Hapoel Ramat Hasharon, Bnei Yehuda hosts Hapoel Acre
and Hapoel Rishon Lezion visits Bnei Sakhnin.
On Sunday, Maccabi Petah
Tikva hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv, which ended its Europa League campaign with a 2-0
home victory over Legia Warsaw on Thursday night.
Hapoel lost any hope of
advancing from Group C after picking up just one point from its first four
matches, but it at least saved some pride by winning its last two games, with
Salim Toama (34) and Avihai Yadin (76) scoring on Thursday.
Maccabi Haifa hosts Netanya.