MOUSSA KONATE 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Considering all that has transpired in recent days, Maccabi Tel Aviv would be
delighted to simply settle for a point when it hosts Maccabi Netanya at Teddy
Stadium on Saturday evening.
A day after seeing his team drop to its
fourth Premier League defeat in a row with a 2-0 loss at Hapoel Haifa, Maccabi
owner Mitch Goldhar called coach Moti Ivanir on Monday to notify him that he is
Maccabi began the season superbly, winning five of its first six
league matches and reaching the Europea League group stage.
yellow-and-blue has completely lost its way since, suffering humbling defeats in
European play, but far more concerning, winning just one of its past eight
league games, losing its last four on the trot.
Pressure levels at Kiryat
Shalom reached ridiculous heights and rifts between the coaching staff and
players and between different groups of players in the squad tore the team
Ivanir seemed helpless when speaking after the defeat to Haifa,
and less than a year since returning to his boyhood club as a savior, he was
fired in a transcontinental phone call, just like his predecessor Avi
Youth department director of football Nir Levine has been put in
charge of the team on an interim basis and he is hoping to help it finally stop
the rot on Saturday.
“I’m here to try and help the team play better and I
hope that happens on Saturday,” said Levine, whose team hosts Netanya at Teddy
and not at Bloomfield Stadium due to a punishment handed down by the Israel
Football Association’s disciplinary court for its fans unruliness.
team has excellent players and there is a lot of potential. The team is starting
anew and I hope I can help it look better. Maccabi should be among the top teams
and that is our target. It wouldn’t be serious to talk about long term targets
at the moment.”
Netanya has also suffered from a dip in form in recent
weeks, winning just once in its past five matches after beginning the season in
Nevertheless, there is no sense of crisis at the
humble Netanya and midfielder Ben Binyamin is hoping to compound the misery on
the yellow-and-blue in Teddy.
“We didn’t show enough commitment in our
last match,” said Binyamin, with Netanya falling to a 2-0 home defeat to Hapoel
Ramat Hasharon last week. “We don’t care about Maccabi Tel Aviv’s
They will be playing without a permanent coach, but they will
be desperate to get back to winning ways.”
Haifa is in danger of losing touch with the top of the table should it fail to
defeat Hapoel Haifa in the derby at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on
Haifa’s 3-0 defeat at Hapoel Tel Aviv on Monday saw it drop
eight points behind the league-leader, but the Greens have got a chance to put a
little bit of pressure on the Reds with three points on Saturday.
Tel Aviv doesn’t play until Monday night when it visits secondplaced Ironi
Hapoel Haifa won just its second match of the season when
it beat Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday, with Tal Banin getting his tenure at the
club off to a dream start after replacing Nitzan Shirazi.
hasn’t defeated its cross-town rival in a league derby since 2001, a drought
Banin, a former player at both Hapoel and Maccabi Haifa, will be desperate to
end on Saturday.
The hottest team in the league in recent weeks has been
Ashdod SC, which has won four straight matches, but faces a tricky road game at
Bnei Sakhnin on Saturday.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Beersheba goes for its
second straight win when it visits Hapoel Rishon Lezion, Maccabi Petah Tikva
hosts Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon welcomes Hapoel Petah
Betar Jerusalem visits Bnei Yehuda on Sunday.