Hapoel Tel Aviv 224.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Tel Aviv's reward for knocking out Maccabi Tel Aviv in the ninth round of the State Cup is a last 16 meeting against Maccabi Haifa.
The two giants of Israeli soccer were paired in Wednesday's draw at the Israel Football Association headquarters at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
The premier match-up looks to be the sure the highlight of the round of 16, which will be played on March 10-11 and March 17-18.
"Any match against Hapoel is like a final," Haifa captain Yaniv Katan said.
Hapoel coach Eli Gutman was confident that playing at home will prove vital to the outcome of the tie.
"In our home, in front of our fans, we will be ready to continue our cup tradition," said Gutman, who is hoping his team can win the title for a third time in four years.
Hapoel and Haifa have met in the cup eight times in the past, with the latest meeting coming in the quarterfinals in 2004, with Tel Aviv winning 4-2 on penalties after the score was tied at 2-2 after extra-time.
In the only other all Premier League match to be played in the last of 16, Bnei Yehuda will host Bnei Sakhnin.
Cup holder Betar Jerusalem, which defeated Ironi Kiryat Shmona 4-3 in the ninth round, will host third division Hapoel Acre.
In other last 16 matches it's: Ironi Kiryat Ata vs Hakoach Amidar Ramat Gan; Ashdod SC vs Nes Tziona; Hapoel Petah Tikva vs Hapoel Kfar Saba; Maccabi Netanya vs Hapoel Bnei Tamra; Ahi Nazareth vs Hapoel Ashkelon.
While the tournament is almost always won by a team from the premier league, there is certainly hope for the lower-tier clubs. They just need to look back to 2003, when Hapoel Ramat Gan beat Hapoel Beersheba in penalties to become the first team from outside the top division to capture the cup.