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Local Soccer: Ramat Gan looking to upset Haifa again
Allon Sinai
02/12/2009
Maccabi Haifa will have revenge on its mind when it visits National League club Hapoel Ramat Gan in the ninth round of the State Cup.
Maccabi Haifa will have revenge on its mind when it visits National League club Hapoel Ramat Gan in the ninth round of the State Cup on Saturday. Two years ago, Kobi Hasan scored five minutes before the end of extra-time to give Ramat Gan a famous 1-0 victory over Haifa, knocking out the favorite in the quarterfinals of the cup. Haifa is currently top of the Premier League and is also desperate to do well in the cup, which it hasn't lifted since 1998. "We all remember what happened two years ago. It was a rough experience and none of our players are willing to go through it again," Haifa striker Shlomi Arbeitman said. "Ramat Gan is a good team, but we will do whatever we can to advance." "We respect Hapoel Ramat Gan and remember what happened when the teams last met," Haifa coach Elisha Levy added. "We will do whatever it takes so that we won't be surprised again. The key to this match is to enter it fully prepared for every possibility." Maccabi will be a massive favorite once more on Saturday, especially when considering that the team has progressed past at least one cup round in each of the last 43 seasons. However, Ramat Gan and Hasan are hoping to grab the limelight once again on Saturday by registering yet another unlikely cup shock. "We're determined to do it," Hasan said. "Even though we're facing Haifa, which is currently the best team in the country, we believe in our excellent side. "People have been stopping me in the street asking that we knock out Haifa. I hope we don't disappoint them." In the only all Premier League encounter on Saturday, Maccabi Netanya hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva. Netanya and Petah Tikva have done well in the league this season and are each hoping to put together a long cup run. "In cup draws you always hope to receive a comfortable draw, but facing Netanya is anything but comfortable," said Petah Tikva coach Roni Levy, who lost to Netanya in the cup last season as coach of Maccabi Haifa. "We will have to raise our level of play if we want to win. Netanya is a very tough opponent, especially at home." In the first match of the weekend, Hapoel Petah Tikva visits National League club Bnei Lod on Friday. "This is an extremely tricky tie, as Lod wants to be a cup Cinderella," Petah Tikva general manager Ze'ev Zeltzer said. On Sunday, the Betar Jerusalem circus travels up north to face Ironi Kiryat Shmona. On Wednesday, chairman Itzik Kornfein fined himself and all the players NIS 10,000 as a punishment for their embarrassing performance in the 4-0 loss to Hapoel Tel Aviv on Monday. Thursday's training session was stopped twice by outraged supporters, who called for coach Reuven Atar's dismissal, and should the team fail to win on Sunday it will likely be his last match on the sidelines. "I understand the fans anger," Atar said on Thursday. "But we have an important match on Sunday and we need to be concentrate only on that." On Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in the highlight of the ninth round draw. Also Saturday: Ironi Netivot vs Hapoel Acre; Ramat Hasharon vs Ironi Kiryat Ata; Bnei Yehuda vs Hapoel Umm el-Fahem; Hapoel Kfar Saba vs Maccabi Herzliya; Hapoel Afula vs Hapoel Ashkelon; Maccabi Ahi Nazareth vs Hapoel Haifa; Hapoel Ra'anana vs Bnei Sakhnin; Hakoach Amidar Ramat Gan vs Haopel Beer Sheba; Nes Tziona vs Hapoel Upper Nazareth; Hapoel Bnei Tamra vs Dimona; Hapoel Jerusalem vs Ashdod SC.
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