Kfar Saba sends Hapoel TA out of cup

Tel Aviv’s disappointing campaign went from bad to worse with 2-1 loss in last 16

Bnei Sakhnin goalkeeper Mahmud Kandil celebrates during his team’s 5-4 shootout win over Ness Ziona last night in the State Cup round of 16. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Bnei Sakhnin goalkeeper Mahmud Kandil celebrates during his team’s 5-4 shootout win over Ness Ziona last night in the State Cup round of 16.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Hapoel Tel Aviv’s dejecting season got even more miserable on Tuesday after it was sent packing in the State Cup round of 16 following a 2-1 defeat at Hapoel Kfar Saba.
Hapoel took the lead through Ben Reichert’s accurate effort from 20 meters out in the 21st minute, but Kfar Saba drew level on the stroke of halftime through Raz Cohen and Mavis Tchibota netted the winner in the 81st minute, being sent off moments later after receiving a second yellow card for taking off his shirt during the goal celebration.
Despite a one-man advantage, Tel Aviv couldn’t find an equalizer and coach Eli Gutman lost a State Cup match in regulation for the first time at the club. Gutman, who made his long awaited return to the sidelines on Saturday following the sacking of coach Guy Levy last week, won two cups and reached three finals during his initial four-year tenure at Hapoel.
Until Tuesday, the team was never beaten in regulation or extra-time under his guidance in the competition, only being knocked out in penalty shootouts between 2008 and 2011.
Kfar Saba, which won for the fourth time in four matches over all competitions since the arrival of new coach Sharon Mimer, was one of five teams to advance on Tuesday. Bnei Sakhnin survived a mighty scare against the last remaining third division side Hapoel Ness Ziona, winning 5-4 on penalties after extra-time ended in a 0-0 draw.
Regulation and extra-time between Hapoel Ra’anana and Beitar Tel Aviv/Ramle of the National League also ended in a goalless deadlock, but it was Tel Aviv/Ramle which progressed with a 5-4 win in spot kicks.
In other action, Bnei Yehuda beat Ashdod SC 2-1, while Hapoel Ashkelon defeated Hapoel Ramat Gan 2-0 in an all-National League showdown.
On Wednesday, Premier League leader and last year’s cup finalist Hapoel Beersheba visits Maccabi Petah Tikva while Maccabi Haifa hosts Hapoel Haifa in a derby.
Maccabi Tel Aviv faces Hapoel Rishon Lezion of the National League in the final last 16 tie on Thursday. Maccabi completed its first signing of the January transfer window on Tuesday, adding Portuguese striker Orlando Sa.
The 27-year-old signed a threeand- a-half year deal, joining from Reading of the English Championships for a fee estimated at 800,000 euros. He spent just seven months at Reading after joining from Legia Warsaw for one million pounds last summer.
He scored five goals in 21 appearances, including a hat-trick against Ipswich in September, but struggled for first-team opportunities since the return of manager Brian McDermott.
Sa, who has one appearance for the Portuguese national team, joined Portuguese champion Porto for three million euros in 2009, but only ever made two appearances for the club before leaving for Fulham of the English Premier League. He scored a single goal in seven appearances for the London side, but impressed with 18 goals in 39 matches at Cypriot club AEL Limassol and 14 goals in 33 games in Warsaw.
“I know this is the best team in Israel and I want to help the club win all the titles,” said Sa. “Everybody told me good things about Israel, about the sun and about life here. It is important to me that my family will be happy here and I can have my head clean to train hard every day and help the club and hopefully score a few goals.”