Sinai: Abuksis, Hap TA get what they deserve

After closely following recent developments at Hapoel, “what goes around comes around” rings truer than ever in my mind.

February 20, 2013 04:58
4 minute read.
Former Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Yossi Abuksis.

Yossi Abuksis 370. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)


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It is a dangerous venture to start believing in the notion of karma as it pertains to sports.

Still, I for one didn’t have one ounce of sympathy for Yossi Abuksis when his sacking as Hapoel Tel Aviv coach was announced on Saturday night.

I have no personal issue with Abuksis, but it has been hard to cheer for him and his Hapoel side in recent months after the way the organization treated its ailing coach-in-name-only, Nitzan Shirazi.

Hapoel’s new owners never wanted anything to do with Shirazi.

The ownership group led by Haim Ramon inherited Shirazi’s contract from former boss Eli Tabib after completing the purchase of the club last summer and reluctantly left him in charge as it didn’t want to pay his severance package.

Despite a tumultuous off-season, Hapoel won three of its first four Premier League matches under Shirazi and advanced to the Europa League group stage.

However, a tragic development in late September saw Shirazi leave his post and Abuksis installed in his place.

Abuksis, who has also been the Israel national team assistant coach since last year, was initially named as the coach on an interim basis after Shirazi was urged by the ownership to take an indefinite break from full-time coaching when his health situation seriously deteriorated following emergency brain surgery.

“I face a private war which I intend to win,” Shirazi said at the time. “I’m entering a period of treatment which demands me to stop my life as a coach. I hope this only takes a few months and that we’ll win this very very difficult battle.”

Ramon stressed that Abuksis’s appointment is a temporary one and that Shirazi will still be involved at Hapoel on a part-time basis as a sports director, working in cooperation with the new head coach.

“I believe that he will be healthy and will return to his regular capacity as coach,” Ramon said.

Shirazi, who continues to receive a salary from Hapoel, is still not at full health, but his condition has improved in recent months.

Nevertheless, even when Abuksis was fired, Hapoel chose to go with the unproven and largely unknown Freddy David rather than hand back the team to Shirazi.

It almost goes without saying that once Abuksis began his work at Hapoel, Shirazi’s involvement diminished by the day, with Abuksis ruthlessly cleansing the club of his predecessor’s appointments, including assistant coach Shavit Elimelech.

Hapoel didn’t even bother trying to pretend that it intended on bringing Shirazi back, with the club announcing less than two months ago that Abuksis will continue to coach the team in 2013/14, completely ignoring its promise to the sick Shirazi.

Well, Abuksis will not be coaching Hapoel next season, or in its next match for that matter.

Ramon felt the need to show his support for Abuksis by promising him another season at the helm after the team dropped to a 2-1 defeat to Bnei Yehuda, its fourth straight match without a win.

The Reds won their next two games, but matters would soon spiral out of control.

Hapoel lost four straight matches, capped by a humbling 4-0 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv, its worse defeat in the derby in over 20 years.

The team could also only manage a 1-1 draw against Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Saturday after the visitors equalized at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to a 90th-minute header by Ahmed Abed.

Hours later, Abuksis was sent packing.

He must have known what was coming because he didn’t even show up to speak to the press, sending his assistant Asi Dumb to answer the difficult questions in his place.

It was probably just as well, considering all that was uttered by his big mouth in previous weeks.

According to Abuksis, everyone was at fault for Hapoel’s defeats, other than himself of course.

Abuksis at least apologized to fans after the disastrous display in the derby, but following the previous week’s 3-0 loss to Maccabi Netanya he took aim at the team’s fitness coach by claiming that it is no coincidence that eight players are missing through injury and that he can’t elaborate on the matter as if it were some state secret.

Injuries and suspensions were also to blame for the 3-0 loss at Maccabi Haifa, with the 2-0 defeat to Beitar Jerusalem explained by the revelation that “every team can beat every team in this league”.

Abuksis essentially ran out of excuses this past weekend, and his pleas to remain in charge in a meeting with Ramon after the dismal display on Saturday fell on deaf ears.

Shirazi has kept quiet through all that has transpired, but it isn’t hard to guess how he must be feeling.

I’m not saying that Hapoel and Abuksis have been punished for their treatment of Shirazi or that the freak injury crisis at the club is an act of providence.

However, for some reason, after closely following recent developments at Hapoel, the cliché that “what goes around comes around” rings truer than ever in my mind.

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