(photo credit: Asaf Kliger and Adi Avishai)
Surging Maccabi Haifa can move to within five points of the Premier League
summit on Saturday with a win over floundering Hapoel Acre at Kiryat Eliezer
The Greens occupied 13th place out of 14 teams after nine
matches, trailing league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv by 14 points at the
However, since Arik Benado replaced Reuven Atar as coach, Haifa has
gone unbeaten in eight matches, thrashing Ashdod SC 4-1 on Sunday for its sixth
win in its past seven encounters.
The victory over Ashdod took the Greens
up to third place above Yossi Mizrahi’s men and Haifa’s title hopes are alive
and kicking once more.
“There was a time when the players didn’t enjoy
themselves here, but now there is a good atmosphere and good results to match,”
a cheerful Benado said on Thursday.
“Acre began the season well, but has
However, they have some dangerous players and we must
be ready mentally and play aggressively so that we can build on our recent
While Haifa has amassed a total goal difference of 12-2 in
Benado’s eight matches in charge, Acre has lost its past four encounters, going
winless in its last 11 games while conceding 19 goals and scoring just
Hapoel Tel Aviv can leapfrog Maccabi Tel Aviv into first place for
at least 48 hours on Saturday with a win at Bnei Sakhnin.
an 88thminute goal by Omer Damari to beat Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 1-0 last week
and snap a fourgame winless streak.
Maccabi, which hosts Hapoel Beersheba
on Monday, could only manage a 0-0 draw at Ironi Kiryat Shmona, meaning the gap
at the top was reduced to a mere two points.
Sakhnin had its three-match
winning streak ended by a 2-1 loss at Hapoel Ramat Gan last week, but it has
lost just once over its past seven home games at Doha Stadium.
Saturday, rock-bottom Hapoel Haifa and fellow-struggler Maccabi Netanya will
look to build on last week’s rare wins.
Haifa visits Kiryat Shmona on
Saturday after claiming just its second win of the campaign over Bnei Yehuda,
while Netanya hosts Ashdod SC.
Netanya beat Beersheba 3-1 last week for
its first win in nine matches, while Ashdod’s defeat to Maccabi Haifa on Sunday
was its fifth in seven games.
Elsewhere, Ramat Hasharon faces Bnei Yehuda
on Saturday, with Betar Jerusalem to welcome Ramat Gan to Teddy Stadium on
Sunday four days after drawing 0-0 with Terek Grozny in a hastily-organized
friendly encounter in Chechnya, Russia.
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