Soccer: Relegation, UEFA Cup on teams' minds

Hapoel Kfar Saba could be relegated even if it wins against Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium.

israeli soccer 88 (photo credit:)
israeli soccer 88
(photo credit: )
At the midway point of the season, Hapoel Kfar Saba was comfortably placed in the top half of the Premier League standings. There seemed to be no danger that the team would have to battle against relegation the way it has in recent seasons. In fact, compliments for its attacking style of play were streaming in from supporters and opponents alike. On Saturday, however, Kfar Saba could find itself relegated even with a victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium. Eli Ohana's team only trails Maccabi Petah Tikva on goal difference, but should Petah Tikva, Bnei Yehuda and Ashdod SC all win on Saturday then Kfar Saba will go down regardless of the result it records. "We had 29 points at the start of the third round, but all of the sudden everything fell apart," Ohana told Army radio on Thursday. "At the end of the day someone needs to take responsibility for what happened to the team and I blame myself. "I couldn't prevent the players' collapse in confidence and failed to give them peace of mind. We need to do our job on Saturday and I believe that if we win we have a chance of surviving." In its last 17 matches Kfar Saba has won just twice, but the team will look to take advantage of the fact that Hapoel Tel Aviv has nothing to play for on Saturday. All of Kfar Saba's opponents for relegation, however, will also be facing teams which can afford to lose. Petah Tikva, which has won only once in its past 14 matches, visits the already relegated Maccabi Herzliya to try and save its season. Meanwhile, Bnei Yehuda and Ashdod SC host Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa respectively. Bnei Yehuda's seven game win streak was cut short last week by Maccabi Netanya, but confidence is still high among Hezi Shirazi's and Ya'akov Asayag's men. Ashdod, as well, which has won two straight games since Yossi Mizrahi took charge, comes into the weekend with high hopes and spirits Besides the relegation battle, the last remaining UEFA Cup berth will be decided this weekend. Bnei Sakhnin visits Betar Jerusalem on Friday and will qualify for Europe if it wins and Ironi Kiryat Shmona fails to claim a victory at Netanya on Sunday.