maccabi netanya 88.
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Maccabi Netanya will look to continue its climb up the standings on Saturday afternoon when its hosts 10th-place Maccabi Herzliya in Matchday 22 of the Premier League.
Since coach Reuven Atar rejoined the club at the start of January, Netanya has won four and drawn three of its seven matches and has jumped up to the fourth spot in the standings, nine points behind league leader Betar Jerusalem.
The Netanya faithful were calling for the sacking of previous coach Eli Guttman even before the season began and were elated when club owner Daniel Jammer finally granted them their wish and brought in Atar in his place.
The 37-year-old coach joined the team on his birthday and has been celebrating ever since. Atar was first named as coach of Maccabi in February 2004 and guided the team for the next two-and-a-half seasons. However, when the new owner took over the club last summer, the coach wasn't pleased with Jammer's hands-on approach and left for Herzliya. The former Israeli international only lasted for eight league matches at his new home and after Guttman was fired, Jammer rectified his mistake and brought Atar back.
Herzliya, which collected only six points with Atar in charge, has added just 12 points since Freddy David took his place and is only kept out of the relegation zone by scoring more goals then Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan. Both sides have 18 points and each have a minus-11 goal differential. Maccabi has scored 22 goals to Ramat Gan's 18 and is above its rival as a result.
Hakoah visits Ashdod SC with both teams eager to finally break out of their current slumps. Amidar has lost three of its last four matches, with Ashdod dropping four of its last five. The coastal club hasn't won a match in 2007 and has suffered a dramatic fall down the standings after its impressive start to the season.
Maccabi Tel Aviv can cut Betar Jerusalem's lead to three points on Saturday when it hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva, with the table-toppers only in action on Sunday.
Maccabi is unbeaten in its last 16 matches, but the club has only won two of its last 10 outings and was extremely disappointing in its 0-0 draw against Maccabi Haifa last Sunday. Tel Aviv has the best defensive record in the league, only conceding 15 goals, but its poor scoring is preventing the team from becoming a genuine championship contender.
Nevertheless, the hosts will be huge favorites against last-place Petah Tikva, which has only won twice all season and is six points adrift from safety.
Betar hosts Bnei Yehuda at Teddy Stadium on Sunday night, with Matchday 22 and the second round of Premier League action coming to a close on Monday night when Maccabi Haifa visits Hapoel Kfar Saba and Hapoel Tel Aviv travels to Maccabi Petah Tikva.