Amsalem’s abrupt departure leaves Betar floundering

Assistant Itzik Ovadia takes charge of training and tries to lift the players and somehow continue the preparations for the Premier League opener at Hapoel Beersheba.

David Amsalem 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
David Amsalem 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
An air of despair hung over Betar Jerusalem’s training ground at Beit Vegan on Tuesday afternoon.
The shock resignation of coach David Amsalem on Monday night left Betar staff and players bewildered and dejected. Assistant Itzik Ovadia took charge of Tuesday’s training session and tried to lift the players and somehow continue the preparations for Saturday’s Premier League opener at Hapoel Beersheba.
It was just three weeks ago that Betar seemed to be heading towards a bright future. Americans Dan Adler and Adam Levin promised to return the club to its former glory after agreeing to purchase it from Arkadi Gaydamak and Amsalem was rewarded for his loyalty by being named as the team’s coach for the coming campaign.
However, Adler and Levin soon deserted Betar, leaving chairman Itzik Kornfein and Amsalem to pick up the pieces at the struggling club.
Amsalem grew more and more frustrated with every day as his requests to strengthen the squad were turned down by Kornfein for financial reasons and on Monday he decided he had no real chance to succeed and quit.
“Dear fans, I’m forced to leave the team due to personal reasons. You will forever remain in my heart and I hope to be back at the club soon,” wrote the 39-year-old, who had been at Betar since 2000.
“David Amsalem’s announcement caught me by complete surprise,” Kornfein said. “Beyond the fact that David was the coach of the team, he has also been a personal friend of mine for the past 20 years. This is not an easy day for Betar Jerusalem. My door will always remain open for David Amsalem to return to Betar in the future.”
Kornfein approached Israel under-19 coach and Betar legend Eli Ohana with an offer to replace Amsalem, but he declined, saying that he intends to respect his contract with the Israel Football Association.
Following Ohana’s refusal, the favorite to be named as the next coach of Betar is Yuval Naim, who guided Hapoel Petah Tikva for most of last season before being questioned by police in connection with the match fixing investigation this summer.
Hapoel Petah Tikva is also looking for a new coach after Gili Landau quit on Tuesday. Landau refused to have his salary cut by a third and chose instead to leave the bankrupt club, which will begin the season with a nine-point deduction.