Hapoel Tel Aviv 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After being outplayed in a 2-0 defeat to Maccabi Haifa last Saturday, Hapoel
Tel Aviv finds itself in the one situation it despises most – in need of a favor
from arch-rival Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The loss at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium left
Hapoel two points behind Haifa in the title race, with three more matches to be
played until the end of the season.
Tel Aviv knows it can afford nothing
other than a victory when it hosts Maccabi Netanya at Bloomfield Stadium on
Saturday afternoon and will also be crossing its fingers for Maccabi Tel Aviv,
which welcomes Haifa at the same stadium later in the day.
But first and
foremost, the Reds will have to make sure they get the better of Netanya, a team
which defeated Haifa 2-1 on the road two weeks ago and hasn’t lost in 12 league
matches, with its last defeat coming at the hands of the reigning champion more
than three months ago.
“Haifa deserved to beat us, but nothing is over
just yet,” said Hapoel midfielder Eran Zahavi, who has been linked with moves to
Italy’s Palermo and Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon in recent weeks.
are three more matches to be played and there is plenty of time to make amends.
The destiny of the title is no longer in our hands, but we will do our best and
if God loves us we will take the championship.”
Zahavi wasn’t pleased
with the criticism directed at Hapoel after its sorry performance against the
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“Last week you said that Hapoel will take the championship
because it is the best team in the country, and all of the sudden everyone is
criticizing us,” he said. “We may not be the exciting Hapoel team of last
season, but we are still a good and strong team.”
Hapoel will be hoping
the yellow-and-blue can continue its recent resurgence against Haifa, with
Maccabi Tel Aviv winning its last two matches against Ironi Kiryat Shmona and
Bnei Yehuda in impressive fashion after a run of four defeats in five
Last season, Hapoel felt that Maccabi didn’t give its all against
Haifa in a 2-0 loss at the exact same stage of the campaign, but Greens striker
Tomer Hemed, who has scored nine goals in his team’s last 12 matches, believes
the Reds have no right to complain.
“First of all, everyone knows that
Haifa doesn’t need any help from anyone,” Hemed said. “Everything depends on us,
and it is a shame that some people are smearing a great club like Maccabi Tel
“We proved that we are a better team than Hapoel and now we need to
show that against Maccabi.”
Ironi Kiryat Shmona hosts Bnei Yehuda in the
other championship playoff match on Saturday.
Betar Jerusalem will hope
to officially secure itself another season of top-flight soccer when it visits
Ashdod SC on Saturday, looking to claim its fifth straight win.
is currently eight points clear of Bnei Sakhnin and 14th place, which leads to a
two-legged tie against relegation with a National League club.
the relegation playoffs, Sakhnin will be desperate to take all three points at
Hapoel Ashkelon, while Gili Landau guides Hapoel Petah Tikva for the first time
when it hosts already relegated Hapoel Ramat Gan.
The mid-table playoffs
will draw to a close on Saturday, with Hapoel Acre welcoming Hapoel Haifa and
Hapoel Beersheba visiting Maccabi Petah Tikva.Israeli soccer loses
In other Israeli soccer news, former Israel national team coach Yosef
Mirmovich passed away on Thursday at the age of 86.
Mirmovich played for
Maccabi Tel Aviv during his entire career between 1940 and 1958, helping the
club to six championships and six cups.
Mirmovich went on to coach
Maccabi on three separate occasions (1958-1960, 1966- 1968, 1988-1989) and also
guided the national team in 1964 and 1965 as well as between 1983 and
Mirmovich was the one who suggested in 1942 that Maccabi switch to
yellow jerseys as an act of solidarity with the Jews of Europe who were being
forced to wear the yellow star.
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