(photo credit: )
Ashdod SC owner Jackie Ben-Zaken on Tuesday spoke out against the Israel Football Association's decision to postpone this weekend's soccer matches.
The IFA announced on Monday that all senior and youth matches, will be rescheduled, claiming it would be wrong to play while rockets from Gaza rain down on the south of Israel.
But, despite seeing his hometown barraged by Kassam and Grad-type rockets, Ben-Zaken said he believes the IFA shouldn't have postponed the matches.
"If we can play, we should play," Ben-Zaken said. "We need to try and maintain our sanity and some kind of routine in any way possible. This is one of the reasons why I thought the matches shouldn't be postponed despite the situation. The IFA, however, took the decision it took and I gave it my blessing."
Ben-Zaken was speaking after Ashdod SC all but clinched its place in the Toto Cup semifinal, thrashing Maccabi Netanya 4-1 in the first leg of the quarterfinals at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
Thierry Tazemeta gave Netanya the lead in the 20th minute of the match, which was played in Ramat Gan as Maccabi's pitch is being resurfaced.
Ashdod equalized through Idan Shriki seven minutes later and a Bevan Fransman own-goal six minutes before the interval put the visitors in front.
Shriki got his second goal of the match with three minutes till half time and completed his hat-trick in the 65th minute to give Ashdod a superb chance to progress to the semis.
"We brought a smile to the faces of the fans, but our heart is in Gaza," Ashdod coach Yossi Mizrahi said.
"We're not the ones who decide if to postpone the matches or not and we will do what we're told. I'm happy the players understand that this is their profession and in the same way everyone else in the country continues to go to work so should they."
Ashdod midfielder David Revivo disagreed with his coach, saying he is pleased that he doesn't need to play in the league at the weekend.
"We tried to do our best for the city," Revivo said. "I'm happy we're not playing on Saturday. They say that all Israelis are brothers so while your brothers are fighting you can't enjoy soccer."
Also Tuesday, Bnei Yehuda defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-1 at Bloomfield Stadium in another Toto Cup quarterfinal first leg.
Pedro Galvan scored the opener in the 31st minute and Muhammad Hatari doubled the lead 13 minutes before the final whistle.
But Ilya Yavruyan scored an important away goal for Maccabi in stoppage time, and the return leg will be wide open.