Bnei Lod Abu Hansa 311.
(photo credit: MK Productions)
Maccabi Kabilio Jaffa became the first fourth division club in 47 years to reach the last 16 of the State Cup on Monday night.
Jaffa claimed a stunning 1-0 victory at National League table-toppers Ironi Kiryat Shmona, with Erez Yarimi scoring the winner in the 79th minute.
Jaffa was one of Israel’s top sides in the 1960’s and 1970’s, finishing as league runner-up three times (1962, 1964, 1977). The club played its 32nd and final season in the Premier League in the 1998/99 season, but within one year of relegation, went bankrupt and disappeared from the soccer map.
However, in 2008 a group of the team’s fans set up a new club and named it Maccabi Kabilio after former goalkeeper Herzl Kabilio. The side, which gained promotion from the fifth division (Liga Gimel) last season, attracts larger crowds than several current Premier League clubs and hundreds of the team’s fans celebrated the greatest moment in the new Jaffa’s history in Kiryat Shmona on Monday.
“This is amazing,” coach Ofer Reuven said. “We showed that Jaffa is a big club. We may still be in Liga Bet, but we showed that we are moving in the right direction and that we deserve to return to the Premier League.”
Earlier Monday, Bnei Lod of the National League became the first team to reach the last 16 with a 2-0 victory at Hapoel Marmorek. Morad Abu Hansa scored twice in the span of nine second-half minutes (59, 68) to give Lod a place in the ninth round.
Eight more last 32 matches will take place on Tuesday. Maccabi Haifa, which hasn’t won the cup since 1998, hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium. Haifa is cruising to a second straight Premier League title, but is still searching for a second league and cup double in club history and a first since 1991.
Midfielder Eyal Golasa will miss the match through injury, but he was at the center of attention on Monday when he spoke out for the first time since sneaking off to Italy just over a week ago to sign a contract with Serie A club S.S. Lazio.
The 18-year-old was convinced that the fact that his mother signed his original agreement at Haifa as his guardian meant he was free to leave as he never re-signed the contract when he turned 18. However, after finally getting in touch with Haifa last week Golasa was persuaded to return to Israel and is expected to sign a new contract at the club in the coming days.
“I would like to apologize to Maccabi Haifa,” said Golasa. “It is important for me to apologize to the fans. I’m happy this episode is behind me and I’m fully focused on recovering from injury and returning to the form I displayed at the start of the season.”
Haifa will also be without the suspended John Culma, Biram Kiyal and Yaniv Katan on Tuesday, but coach Elisha Levy is not expecting an easy time against the National League club.
“Cup matches are always difficult,” said Levy, who coached Kfar Saba twice in the past. “The players understand the importance of the cup and we need to make sure we take it one round at a time.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Netanya on Tuesday, looking to translate
its league form to the cup. Tel Aviv has won five straight league
matches, but will be wary of Netanya, despite the fact that Reuven
Atar’s team is winless in its last four league games.
Ahi Nazareth visits Maccabi Petah Tikva in the other all-Premier League encounter on Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, Hapoel Ramat Gan visits third division club Karmiel/Tzfat
SC, Betar Kfar Saba hosts Ironi Ramat Hasharon, Hapoel Beersheba
welcomes Ironi Netivot, Hapoel Upper Nazareth goes to Hapoel Arad and
Bnei Sakhnin travels to Ironi Umm el-Fahem. The remaining six last 32
encounters will be played on Wednesday.