Willi to stay on as National Team coach

Maccabi Haifa edges Petah Tikva • Beitar Jerusalem holds Maccabi Tel Aviv to goalless draw

IN A spirited Premier League duel, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem played to a 0-0 draw on Monday night at Teddy Stadium in the capital.  (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
IN A spirited Premier League duel, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem played to a 0-0 draw on Monday night at Teddy Stadium in the capital.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
This week, the Israel Football Association announced that it would like Willi Ruttensteiner to continue as the coach of the National Team, a role he took this past summer.
The Austrian had been the technical director for the past couple of years and when Andi Herzog departed his post Ruttensteiner moved down to the bench.
The players had voiced their desire to have Ruttensteiner remain in charge, including super-striker Eran Zahavi, up-and-coming star Manor Solomon and many others. Israel will begin World Cup 2022 qualifying in March 2021 when it has a trio of games against Denmark, Scotland and Moldova, while other opponents include Austria and Faroe Islands.
Meanwhile, in Israel Premier League action, Maccabi Haifa defeated Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1 in a wild game that saw Greens ’keeper Josh Cohen save a penalty deep into second-half injury time to secure the three points.
Naor Sabag gave host Petah Tikva an early lead as he put home a Liel Abada pass in the fourth minute, but just four minutes later Nikita Rukavytsya did the same to even the game up at 1-1.
Muhamed Abu Fani had a chance to give Haifa the advantage at the break, but his penalty kick hit the post. However, in the 80th minute Dolev Haziza nodded in a Tjaron Chery corner kick and Barak Bachar’s ’keeper Josh Cohen came up big in the 98th minute as he stopped Yinon Eliyahu’s spot-kick to give the visitors the win.
“We have to regroup and recover from what went on here,” said an exhausted Bachar. “Each team wanted to win and I have to give credit to Petah Tikva. There were many chances in the first half and we missed a penalty that messed us up a bit. But we came back strong in the second half and that is how I want to see my squad.”
Haziza also reflected in the victory.
“This was a tough game and we have to give credit to Josh Cohen for saving the late penalty. We always believe that the ’keeper will make the key save and take the points and while their shot-stopper made some great saves we managed to take the points.”
“We could have taken a point but it didn’t work out,” explained Petah Tikva coach Guy Luzon. “We have to now look ahead to our next game and not get ahead of ourselves. Each team had chances in this game and Haifa was the better team in the second half.”
Elsewhere, Hapoel Beersheba walked all over Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 to earn the three points. Sintayehu Sallalich took a Josue pass and put it behind Reds ’keeper Ernestas Setkus while Josue scored a stunner of a curler from 25 meters out to double the advantage.
Red-hot Anthony Varenne added a third goal late in the game to sew up the victory.
“We played an excellent game,” said a satisfied Yossi Abukasis. “I have a lot to be happy about as we made no mistakes defensively and we didn’t concede a goal. Josue? What can I say about him, you can see what he does for this team on the field of play. I just hope that this continues.”
Josue reflected on his performance.
“It was important to show character and win the way we did after we drew our last game out. The key was that we didn’t give up any goals. Our goal is to take three points every game we play.”
In other action, Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv played to a goalless draw at Teddy Stadium, a game that saw the yellow-and-blue dominate with two superb chances by Dor Peretz But Baitar netminder Itamar Nitzan was up to the task as the teams split the points.
“We didn’t deserve more than a point,” said associate Beitar coach Shay Barda. “We played very well defensively but I am also someone who likes attacking soccer and we didn’t do that.”
Maccabi coach Giorgos Donis also commented after the game.
“This wasn’t one of our better games. Both teams battled and there weren’t many chances. We didn’t make enough passes to create in the first half and while we improved in the second half, we just weren’t good enough.”
Also, Bnei Yehuda and Maccabi Netanya played to a 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Stadium.
Muhamed Ghadir got the hosts on the board with a 24th-minute header thanks to a perfect pass by Shay Mazor.
Bnei Yehuda almost doubled the score just before halftime, but Matija Ljujic’s spot-kick was smartly saved by Dani Amos and the rebound went directly to Ghadir, who missed an open-net opportunity.
Ben Azubel took advantage and found the back of the goal in the second half to draw Netanya even as the sides split the points.
Netanya coach Raymond Atteveld spoke about having to make wholesale changes going into the game.
“I didn’t recognize my team in the first half as I had to make so many changes with a lot of games coming up. I had to switch things up and I was able to get the Netanya team that I wanted to see.”
“I’ll think about the missed goal, I really wanted to score but it didn’t happen,” said a disappointed Ghadir. “We played well in the first half, but we will have to just keep working hard.”
Hapoel Hadera and Ashdod SC drew 1-1 as each side took a point.
After a goalless first half, Ashdod’s Montari Kamaheni took a Tom Ben Zaken pass and slipped the ball into the back of the goal in the 55th minute, but five minutes later Obeida Khattab headed in a corner to find the equalizer.
Hapoel Haifa downed Hapoel Kfar Saba 2-1 as it took advantage of an extra man over the last 30 minutes to take the win.
Luwagga Kizito opened the scoring in the 20th minute to give Kfar Saba a 1-0 lead, but Nes Zamir drew the Carmel Reds even early on in the second half. George Fochive was issued a straight red card in the 59th minute due to a reckless foul on Raz Stain and gave Haifa a man up for the rest.
Hanan Maman took advantage of the situation 10 minutes later as he scored the winner to give Haim Silvas’s squad the three points.
“We began the game well, but gave up a goal,” said Silvas. “We calmed down and knew how to take control of the game and then took advantage of Kfar Saba’s red card.”
Bnei Sakhnin slipped by Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1-0 on a 93rd-minute goal by Ataa Jabar as Niso Avitan’s club took the points.
“I dreamed that I was going to come into the game and score,” said the hero of the day, Jabar. “I saw the play unfold and I knew I had to kick the ball. I’m happy for the team and myself personally, but we have to keep working harder.”