Mac Haifa sets sights on State Cup success

Greens host Bnei Yehuda in quarters 2nd leg with tie even, Sakhnin favorite against Ashkelon

Hapoel Acre striker Lanry Kahinda (right) celebrates after scoring his second goal in last night’s 2-0 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Acre striker Lanry Kahinda (right) celebrates after scoring his second goal in last night’s 2-0 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
With little left to play for in another dejecting Premier League campaign, the State Cup has taken on added importance for Maccabi Haifa this season.
The Greens haven’t won the cup since 1998, losing in the final on four occasions since. After drawing 2-2 with Bnei Yehuda in the first leg of the quarterfinals three weeks ago, Haifa will be confident of progressing to the semis when it hosts the second leg at Haifa Stadium on Tuesday, although it will be taking nothing for granted.
Haifa secured its place in the championship playoffs with Saturday’s 3-0 win at Maccabi Netanya, but the victory was marred by yet another clash between captain Yossi Benayoun and a group of the team’s supporters. Benayoun said afterwards that he plans to play another season before he retires but isn’t sure it will be at Haifa, prompting the club to release a statement renouncing the fans and backing Benayoun, saying he is “the true Maccabi Haifa.”
Earlier Tuesday, Bnei Sakhnin should encounter little trouble on its way to the semis when it visits Hapoel Ashkelon of the National League after claiming a 3-0 win in the first leg.
The two remaining semifinalists will be decided on Wednesday, with Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba on course for the last four.
Maccabi hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba after winning the first leg 3-0, while Beersheba visits Beitar Tel Aviv/Ramle of the second division with a 2-0 lead from the first match.
In other soccer news, Ran Ben-Shimon resigned as the coach of Maccabi Petah Tikva on Monday. Petah Tikva led the Premier League standings for the first month of the season after winning its first four matches. However, it lost its next four games and has been inconsistent ever since.
Ben-Shimon led Petah Tikva to its first title in 12 years after winning the Toto Cup, but seven defeats from the past eight games in league action saw the team drop into the relegation playoffs, resulting in the coach’s departure.
“After a season and a half at Maccabi Petah Tikva, Ran Ben-Shimon decided to leave the club,” read a club statement.
“The recent run of results which meant that the team would not qualify for the championship playoffs created doubts in the club regarding Ben-Shimon’s ability to continue and guide the team. Despite Ben-Shimon’s wish and belief in his abilities to continue and guide his players until the end of the season, he felt that in the current situation there is no point in continuing at the club.”
Kahinda leads Acre past Hap TA Hapoel Acre claimed a crucial win in the battle against relegation on Monday night, defeating Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to a Lanry Kahinda brace.
Tel Aviv dominated the match, but failed to convert its chances, and Kahinda, who is on loan at Acre from Maccabi Tel Aviv, scored two superb solo goals in the 24th and 68th minutes to give his team its third win from the past four matches and lift it out of the relegation zone.
Acre moved up to 11th place on 28 points, three points ahead of Hapoel Haifa in the 13th spot, with Hapoel Tel Aviv only one point in front of the bottom two.
“This is a crucial win and we were very lucky today,” said Acre coach Yaron Hochenboim. “It isn’t only that we lost but also the way we lost,” said Tel Aviv coach Eli Gutman. “One player can’t be allowed to take apart a team by himself.”