Three teams fight relegation

The Premier League has not lacked drama this season, and, heading into the last six matches, the relegation battle is becoming a hot topic.

By SHARON SOLOMON
April 7, 2006 03:21
2 minute read.
Three teams fight relegation

Hapoel Kfar saba 88. (photo credit: )

 
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The Premier League has not lacked drama this season, and, heading into the last six matches, the relegation battle is becoming a hot topic. Bnei Sakhnin, Hapoel Kfar Saba and Upper Nazareth continue to fight for 10th place, which would ensure another season in the top flight. Last-place Sakhnin is keen to earn valuable points against Yossi Mizrahi's Ashdod SC in the Matchday 28 opener on Friday afternoon. It may be Sakhnin's last chance to rise off of the bottom of the standings. A capacity crowd of 7,000 at Doha Stadium is expected to witness one of the team's most crucial home games in recent memory. Romanian forward Adrian Pito is expected to be demoted to the bench in favor of defensive midfielder Haled Halaila. "We need the support of our crowd," Sakhnin coach Shiye Faigenbaum and team president Mazen Ganaim told reporters ahead of the game. "Their help is desperately needed in order to enable us to collect the three points we need." Betar Jerusalem has gone through a turbulent week after last Saturday's home defeat to Eli Ohana's Hapoel Kfar Saba. Luis Fernandez is back from his brief vacation in France ahead of Saturday's match against Bnei Yehuda and it seems to be business as usual at Arkadi Gaydamak's club. "I will make my decision about the next season only in the summer," the French legend explained. "I want to see how we do in the remaining games. I hope the fans will set aside the negative feelings and support us throughout the game this time." Fernandez is considering fielding a two-striker attacking formation, which will include Amit Ben-Shoshan and Spanish forward David Aganzo. Jerome Leroy is suspended after collecting five yellow cards and will be replaced by Barak Yitzhaki in midfield. Frontrunner Maccabi Haifa takes on Reuven Atar's Maccabi Netanya at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, with both teams looking to end the season on a positive note. Haifa has virtually ensured itself a third straight championship, as it leads second-place Hapoel Tel Aviv by 11 points. The reigning champion is looking for a replacement for Idan Tal, who is expected to complete his move to Bolton at the end of the season. Ashdod's Blesing Kaku and Hapoel Petah Tikva's Yossi Shivkhon are being mentioned as leading candidates to replace the dynamic midfielder. Motti Ivanir's Upper Nazareth will be looking to hold on to the 10th spot in the league standings as it visits Maccabi Petah Tikva in a tough away game. Another loss could prove costly, as the team is just two points above the red line. "We have to win this game to make sure," Petah Tikva playmaker Salim Toema said. "We must not underestimate our opponents, as we were in their situation about a month ago. We'll do our best to take all three points from the game." Eli Ohana and Hapoel Kfar Saba will be looking to keep an amazing three-game winning streak alive when they host Nir Levin's Hapoel Petah Tikva at Levita Stadium. The greens are hoping to make a serious run for 10th place in order to complete one of the most impressive turnarounds in league history. The Tel Aviv derby completes Matchday 28 Sunday night when Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv face off in what might be Ton Caanen's final match as yellow-and-blue coach. Avi Nimni is expected to be back in the Maccabi starting lineup after a long absence.

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