After seeing its 10-match winning streak cut short by Maccabi Tel Aviv on Monday, Maccabi Haifa will be looking to return to winning ways immediately when it hosts Bnei Sakhnin at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Saturday.
Haifa steamrolled the rest of the Premier League for the first 10 matches of the season, but finally came unstuck against Avi Nimni's men at Bloomfield Stadium, one victory shy of tying the record for the most consecutive wins to start a campaign.
Despite suffering its first loss of the season, which leaves it six points clear of Hapoel Tel Aviv, Haifa will be extremely confident of getting the better of Sakhnin on Saturday.
Sakhnin may be unbeaten in its last two matches, but it has won just once in more than two months and will not be expecting to leave Kiryat Eliezer with any points.
"We are the same team we were before the defeat and we will prove that against Sakhnin," Haifa captain Yaniv Katan said.
"I don't think we need to rush to any conclusions because of one loss. We remained grounded when we were winning and we always knew that we would eventually lose. We are not pleased with the defeat, but we will learn from it and improve. We still believe in ourselves and a loss or two will not cause a crisis."
Maccabi Tel Aviv received all the plaudits after the 1-0 win over Haifa, but on Saturday it faces a stern test once more. Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Netanya, which has won two of its last three matches and has shown consistent improvement since Reuven Atar took charge.
Betar Jerusalem, which has won just once in its last five matches, hosts Hapoel Ra'anana at Teddy Stadium on Saturday in a match is simply must win.
"The players have learned from their mistakes in the previous games," Betar captain Aviram Bruchian promised on Thursday.
"There are no easy matches in this league, not even against Ra'anana. We have gotten ourselves in this situation and we are the ones who will need to get ourselves of it."
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ramat Gan hosts Hapoel Acre, Bnei Yehuda visits Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Beersheba welcomes Hapoel Petah Tikva. On Sunday, Ashdod SC hosts Ahi Nazareth, with Hapoel Tel Aviv facing Hapoel Haifa at Bloomfield on Monday.
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