Big boys enter the mix to kick off State Cup round-of-32

The round-of-32 sees all 14 top-flight clubs enter the fray.

 Ironi Kiryat Shmona’s coach Barak Bachar (photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona’s coach Barak Bachar
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
The State Cup round-of-32 will get underway with 11 matches on Tuesday, including two all-Premier League showdowns and a rare appearance at this stage of the competition by a team from Israel’s fifth and last division.
The round-of-32 sees all 14 top-flight clubs enter the fray.
Premier League leader Kiryat Shmona faces a tricky visit to Hapoel Acre on Tuesday after having its 16-match unbeaten streak to start the season snapped with a stunning 3-0 defeat at Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday. Acre continues to occupy last place in the standings, but a onegame winner-takes-all scenario will mean Kiryat Shmona will be taking nothing for granted on Tuesday.
Kiryat Shmona lifted its first State Cup in club history last season and is aiming to reach a third straight final after losing to Hapoel Ramat Gan in the title match two years ago.
“We knew that we would lose at some stage, but of course we didn’t want to lose like this,” said Kiryat Shmona captain Shir Tzedek following Saturday’s shock defeat.
“We are already focused on the cup.
We have reached the semis three times in the past four years, twice advancing to the final and winning the cup once. We have a tradition in the competition. We received a pretty tough draw for the round-of-32, but we can beat any team at any stadium.”
In another all-Premier League encounter on Tuesday, in-form Hapoel Haifa, which has won three of its past four league games, hosts Ashdod SC.
Holon SC of the fifth division (Liga Gimel) will be looking to continue its Cinderella run when it hosts third division Ma’alot-Tarshiha on Tuesday. The club was only established last summer and has come through seven rounds to reach the round-of-32.
The team knocked out Asi Gilboa in a penalty shootout following a 4-4 draw after extra time in the round-of-64 and has dominated the central region of the fifth division so far this season, winning all 12 of its matches by a combined goal difference of 38-2.
Also Tuesday, Hapoel Beersheba will hope to rebound from its surprise 1-0 defeat to Hapoel Ra’anana on Saturday when it visits Maccabi Herzliya of the National League.
Elsewhere on Tuesday: Hapoel Petah Tikva (Premier League) vs Bnei Lod (National League); Hapoel Marmorek (III) vs Hapoel Afula (NL); Shikun Hamizrach (III) vs Hapoel Migdal Haemek (III); Bnei Eilat (IIII) vs Hapoel Kfar Saba (NL); Givat Olga (III) vs Maccabi Petah Tikva (PL); Ahi Nazareth (NL) vs Maccabi Netanya (PL); Hapoel Ra’anana (PL) vs Bnei Yehuda (NL).
On Wednesday: Beitar Tel Aviv/Ramle (NL) faces Maccabi Tel Aviv (PL) and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon (NL) hosts Maccabi Haifa (PL).
On Thursday: Hapoel Ashkelon (III) vs Beitar Jerusalem (PL); Maccabi Yavne (NL) vs Bnei Sakhnin (PL); Hapoel Rishon Lezion (NL) vs Hapoel Tel Aviv (PL).