Maccabi Haifa 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa finally lay to rest the ghosts of last season, defeating Ironi
Kiryat Shmona 2-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Monday night to clinch a 12th
Premier League title in club history and a seventh championship in 11
A year and a day after only managing a draw at Bnei Yehuda in the
final match of the season and seeing Hapoel Tel Aviv snatch the league title
from its grasp with a stoppage-time winner at Betar Jerusalem, Haifa
reestablished its dominance over Israeli soccer on Monday in what was supposed
to be a rebuilding season.
Despite losing key players of the likes of
Dekel Keinan, Biram Kiyal and Shlomi Arbeitman to European clubs, Haifa knew how
to get results even when it wasn’t playing well at the start of the season and
improved as the campaign progressed, winning 11 of its past 14 matches,
including a dominant victory over Hapoel.
“This is an especially happy
championship considering what happened last season,” said Haifa owner Jacob
Shahar, who is the man who deserves most of the credit for the club’s incredible
success over the last three decades.
“I always believed we could win the
championship. Everyone was talking at the start of the season about the players
that left, but I was talking about the ones that stayed.”
On the same day
he was chosen as the players’ player of the season, Lior Rafaelov scored twice
to give Haifa all three points when it needed just one against Kiryat Shmona,
netting from the penalty spot in the 64th minute after a contentious decision by
referee Liran Liani before clinching the win nine minutes later after some great
build-up play by Tomer Hemed.
“After what happened last season, Shahar
told us that we have to win the title back and I’m delighted we did it,”
“It was a tough season,” said coach Elisha Levy, who will
hope to guide Haifa to its first league and cup double since the 1990/91 season
when the Greens play Hapoel in the State Cup final next Wednesday.
knew what we had to do to take this title, using young players from within our
youth system. No one is happier today I am.”
Tabib to become sole owner
of Hap TA The ownership uncertainty at Hapoel Tel Aviv came to a surprise ending
on Monday afternoon when Eli Tabib announced that he will buy-out coowner Moni
Harel’s 50 percent stake in the club.
Harel offered Tabib NIS 6 million
for his half on Sunday, but contrary to what was widely rumored, Tabib made the
most of his prerogative under the BMBY (“buy me, buy you”) procedure and seized
complete control of Hapoel by choosing to decline the proposal and instead
purchase Harel’s percentage for the same amount.
“First of all I’d like
to apologize to the players, coaching staff and especially the fans for the
quarrel that was forced on me and the club and hurt everyone over the last
year,” said Tabib, a former owner of Hapoel Kfar Saba, who officially became a
co-owner at Hapoel last summer.
“Yesterday I was delivered an envelope
with an offer for my stake. I had no doubts and it was clear to me that I would
stay at the club. I notified Moni Harel of my decision and under our agreement I
am now the sole owner of Hapoel.”