maccabi haifa 88.
(photo credit: )
The Israeli Premier League races towards the end of the first round, with Game Day 7 being played this weekend. League leaders Maccabi Haifa face a big hurdle with a tricky away game at Ashdod SC, while Hapoel Tel Aviv host last placed Bnei Sakhnin in a seemingly easy fixture.
In today's afternoon fixture, Hapoel Petah Tikwa host Reuven Atar's Maccabi Netanya (15:30, Channel 5+). The Blues will be looking to recover from last week's capitulation at the hands of Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium.
Netanya is still suffering from numerous injuries to its key players and will feature a depleted squad for this game. Ofer Talker, Koby Hasan, Mate Lakich and Israel Zwiti have not practiced all week and will not be available.
Dror Kashtan's Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts the Bnei Sakhnin, who is still pointless, six games into the season. Tel Aviv is coming off an impressive win against Betar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium last week and is ready to make a run at the second place in the league table.
Left back Islam Knan signed with Sakhnin earlier this week. Coach Lufa Kadosh has made his intentions clear by testing many new foreign players lately and many more new signings are on the cards.
Reigning champions Maccabi Haifa visit Ashdod SC, hoping to keep its perfect record intact and maintain its five point lead at the top of the table.
Haifa coach Roni Levy has some injury concerns prior to this game, with captain Arik Benado and forward Yaniv Katan performing limited drills due to minor injuries.
On the positive side of things, Argentinean marksman Roberto Colautti will probably make his comeback after sitting out the teams last two league games due to an ankle injury.
Elan Bahar and Guy Azuri will lead Betar Jerusalem into a tough away game at Kfar Saba on Saturday night. The yellow-and-black will be looking to get back to winning ways after last weeks 0-2 home loss to Hapoel Tel Aviv and a 4-1 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Toto Cup on Wednesday night.
Betar have yet to appoint a coach, with Russian Yuri Siyumin still the leading candidate. Team president Arkadi Gaydamak has promised a budget of 30 million dollars, if Siyumin accepts his offer.
Avraham Grant's resignation as the national team coach makes him another name to reckon for the Betar job.
Israel's last active club in European competition, Maccabi Petah Tikwa, travels north to take on Motti Ivanir's Upper Nazareth.
Nazareth has now lost two straight league games and will be hoping to salvage a point from this tough fixture.
Brazilian striker Olivera has inked a contract with Nazareth and Slovenian Darko Djukic, who failed to impress since his signing this summer, has been released.
Petah Tikwa will be missing dynamic forward Stanislav Dovrovin, who has not played for the last two weeks due to a muscle strain in his leg. Midfielder Asi Mashiach is also doubtful for this fixture.
The Tel Aviv derby between highflying Bnei Yehuda and the galacticos of Maccabi Tel Aviv (20:50, Channel 10) will lock up Game Day 7 of the league. Eyal Berkovic has patched up his differences with coach Nir Klinger and is expected to be in the starting line up.