MACCABI HAIFA captain Yaniv Katan 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Just two weeks after finding itself in a seemingly hopeless situation, Maccabi
Haifa somehow enters Saturday’s match against Maccabi Netanya at Kiryat Eliezer
Stadium in a promising position.
Haifa fired coach Reuven Atar last month
after the team won just one of its first nine matches. The Greens also failed to
beat Bnei Sakhnin in their first game without Atar, but since Arik Benado has
taken charge on a fulltime basis they have won two consecutive contests, against
Betar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium and Hapoel Haifa in the derby.
Greens may not have been all that impressive in the past couple of weeks, but
they finally displayed real resolve, something they desperately lacked under
Haifa’s two wins have moved it up to ninth place in the Premier
League standings and Benado’s men are now just four points off Jerusalem in
“The players are the ones who have made the difference,” said the
39- year-old Benado, who retired just a year-and-a-half ago. “We started at a
very low point and we are slowly building ourselves up. We are growing as a team
and gaining confidence.
The improved play will arrive later on.
are back in business, but there is still a long way to go until we reach the
place we should be at.”
The sacked Atar may not be out of work for long
as he is being mentioned in connection with a return to Netanya, which he left
for Haifa in the summer.
Current Netanya coach Tal Banin has struggled to
build a cohesive unit, with his team winning just one of its past eight matches,
losing three of its last four.
Another coach who could find himself
unemployed before too long is Hapoel Haifa’s Nir Klinger. Haifa remained bottom
of the table after the 3-0 loss in the derby and another setback at fellow
struggler Hapoel Ramat Gan on Saturday could prove to be the final straw for
owner Yoav Katz.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ramat Hasharon hosts Hapoel
Beersheba, with Ashdod SC visiting Bnei Yehuda.
Hapoel Tel Aviv, which
welcomes Hapoel Acre on Sunday, ended its Europa League Group B campaign in last
position on Thursday night despite claiming its first victory. The Reds beat
Academica de Coimbra of Portugal 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to goals from
Victor Mare (56) and Hanan Maman (80).
Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which played
its final Europa League game at Olympique Lyon late Thursday night, goes to Bnei
Sakhnin on Monday.
Also Monday, Betar Jerusalem faces Maccabi Tel Aviv at
National Stadium in Ramat Gan.