betar jerusalem 88.
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Betar Jerusalem can take another huge step towards its first league title in nine years Saturday night when it hosts Maccabi Herzliya at Teddy Stadium in Matchday 28 of the Premier League.
Four more wins in its six remaining matches will guarantee Betar the championship regardless of results recorded by other title hopefuls.
Jerusalem has won four matches in a row and is unbeaten in its last 10 outings, with its last defeat coming on January 20 against none other than the struggling Herzliya.
"Everybody on the team remembers our bad loss to Herzliya," Betar midfielder Gal Alberman said on Thursday. "We will be fully prepared to face Maccabi on Saturday and we will not be complacent again. I don't think the title is ours yet, but it's ours to lose.
"We are on the right course, but there is still a long way to go and there are no easy games."
Herzliya, which has won its last three league matches, distanced itself from the relegation zone and took a big step towards safety last week by thrashing fellow struggler Hakoakh Amidar Ramat Gan 5-0.
The only team that has any realistic hope of catching Jerusalem is Maccabi Tel Aviv, which knows that only victory will suffice Saturday when it hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba at Bloomfield Stadium.
Tel Aviv rebounded from its 1-0 defeat against Maccabi Haifa - which ended its 20-match unbeaten streak - with a 2-0 win against Maccabi Petah Tikva last week and will be confident of securing its second straight victory against the faltering Kfar Saba.
Hapoel has only one victory in its last six matches and has struggled to win consistently throughout the season.
Maccabi Netanya hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva and Maccabi Haifa visits Ashdod SC in two matches that will go a long way to deciding if any of these clubs can catch third-place Hapoel Tel Aviv and qualify for European competition via the league.
Netanya, which trails Hapoel Tel Aviv by just four points, has won four of its last seven matches and will look to rebound from its surprise State Cup exit on Tuesday with a victory against a Petah Tikva club which has only picked up one point in its last three games.
Ashdod recorded a convincing 4-1 victory over Hapoel Petah Tikva last week, but that was only the coastal club's second victory in 13 matches. Saturday the team faces a tough battle against the three-time reigning champion.
The two bottom clubs, Hapoel Petah Tikva and Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan, face each other on Saturday in a match neither can afford to lose.
Petah Tikva's only victory in the last 20 games came against Hakoakh, which has only won once in its last seven matches.
The Matchday 28 finale will be played Monday night when Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Bnei Yehuda.
Sakhnin to host Maccabi Tel Aviv in State Cup
2005 State Cup holder Maccabi Tel Aviv was drawn Thursday to face 2004 cup winner Bnei Sakhnin in the round of 16 of the State Cup on April 21.
The winner of next Wednesday's ninth round tie between Maccabi Haifa and Betar Jerusalem will face an easy home game against National League club Bnei Lod.
Last year's winner, Hapoel Tel Aviv, visits third division Hapoel Marmorek.
Also in the round of 16: Hapoel Kfar Saba vs Hapoel Ramat Gan; Maccabi Petah Tikva vs Hapoel Herzliya; Hapoel Upper Nazareth vs Ashdod SC; Hashikma/Ramat Hen vs Hapoel Ashkelon; and Hapoel Haifa vs Hapoel Acre.