Abuksis sent packing after Hap TA stumbles again

Coach pays the price after Abed’s 90th minute equalizer denies Hapoel.

IRONI KIRYAT SHMONA players celebrate goal 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
IRONI KIRYAT SHMONA players celebrate goal 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Yossi Abuksis’s days as Hapoel Tel Aviv coach came to an end on Saturday night after his team could only manage a 1-1 draw against Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Bloomfield Stadium.
A 90th-minute equalizer by Ahmed Abede extended Hapoel’s winless streak to five matches and a couple of hours later the club announced Abuksis’s sacking.
After being humbled 4-0 in the derby by Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel seemed to be heading to a much-needed victory when substitute Salim Toama expertly curled the ball into the back of the net with a free-kick from 25 meters out in the 83rd minute.
However, Hapoel players would be booed off the field after Kiryat Shmona left Bloomfield with a deserved point following Abed’s 90th-minute header.
Hapoel at least snapped its four-game losing streak and scored for the first time in 453 minutes, but it could find itself just three points from dropping out of the top six should Beitar Jerusalem beat Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Sunday.
After two rounds of play and a total of 26 matches, the league will be split into two sections, with the top six teams to play each other twice more (10 matches in total) to decide the champion.
Considering its recent play and the fact it has won just twice in its past 11 matches, Hapoel is in real danger of missing out on the championship playoffs after seeming like one of the main title contenders for the first half of the season.
Abuksis refused to speak to the press after Saturday’s draw, sending his assistant Asi Domb to answer the difficult questions in his place.
“This isn’t an easy time for any of us,” Domb said. “We need to do everything to help the players gain some confidence. Once we do that we will get back on track.”
Meanwhile, Maccabi Haifa kept league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv under pressure on Saturday, toughing out a 1-0 win at Bnei Sakhnin.
Haifa won for the 11th time in 13 matches, with Weeam Amasha scoring the only goal of the match one minute into the second half after a swift team move.
Haifa was forced to play the final 30 minutes of the match with 10 players after youngster Jaber Ataa was shown a second yellow card for a foolish foul. However, Sakhnin couldn’t take advantage of its extra man and the Greens closed to within five points of Maccabi Tel Aviv, which visits Bnei Yehuda on Monday.
“We won by the skin of our teeth,” said Haifa coach Arik Benado. “The players showed real character tonight.”
Hapoel Acre climbed off the bottom of the standings on Saturday, defeating Ashdod SC 3-1 for its first win in 17 matches.
Acre has shown more resilience since coach Yuval Naim took charge two weeks ago and it won on Saturday for the first time in more than four months thanks to a stunning Guy Dayan strike.
Stefan Scepovic gave Ashdod the lead in the 36th minute before Nebojsa Marinkovic (51) equalized.
Dayan completed the comeback by chipping the ball over ‘keeper Ofir Marziano’s head from 40 meters out, with Nemanja Arsenijevic securing the three points in the 89th minute.
Hapoel Ramat Gan remained out of the relegation zone on Saturday, beating Hapoel Beersheba 3-0 courtesy of goals from Bernard Onanga (11), Israel Zaguri (14) and Ofir Hemo (70).
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ramat Hasharon and Maccabi Netanya drew 0-0.