Ashdod hopes to achieve dreams against Maccabi

In its wildest dreams Ashdod SC never imagined it would be entering Saturday’s Premier League with Maccabi TA.

ASHDOD SC (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
In its wildest dreams Ashdod SC never imagined that it would be entering Saturday’s Premier League showdown with Maccabi Tel Aviv in sole possession of first place with a perfect 15 points, three above the yellow-and-blue.
Prior to this season, Ashdod had never even won three straight matches to start a campaign, but it made it five wins out of five last Saturday with a convincing 3- 0 home victory over Maccabi Netanya.
Yossi Mizrahi’s team’s carefree style of play has seen Ashdod amass a combined goal difference of 11-2, with the side also showing that it can play on the back foot in the 1-0 victory over Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Ashdod will likely adopt a similar tactic at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday, with Maccabi desperate for a statement win after dropping its first points of the season following a 3-1 defeat at Hapoel Beersheba on Monday.
Maccabi also began last season with four consecutive victories under the guidance of Moti Ivanir, before suffering a defeat to Hapoel Ramat Hasharon in its fifth match and eventually seeing its campaign disintegrate to such an extent that it resulted in the coach being sacked in December.
Despite the early similarities, Maccabi’s sports director Jordi Cruyff was confident on Thursday that this season will unfold in a completely different manner.
“In terms of points and wins we are reasonably on course,” Cruyff said.
“In two months it is difficult to change everything. Everything has its process.
“Losing is part of football,” he added.
"I don’t know how it was in the past and how it works in this country, but in Europe you don’t panic after one loss.
“Last season Maccabi ended up reasonably far away from the top positions so our road is not an easy one and we need time.”
Mizrahi, who worked for six months as Maccabi Tel Aviv’s coach but left following the sacking of manager Avi Nimni in January 2011, isn’t getting carried away by Ashdod’s triumphs just yet.
“We can’t ignore the success, but this is only the beginning of the season and we need to wait and see what team we become,” he said. “We still have a lot of room for improvement because this is a completely new team, especially in attack.”
While the top two battle for first place at Bloomfield on Saturday, Maccabi Haifa continues its agonizing quest for its first win of the season.
Haifa has collected just two points from a possible 15, marking its worst ever start to a Premier League campaign. Coach Reuven Atar’s job seems to be safe for the moment, but failure to defeat newlypromoted Hapoel Ramat Gan at Kiryat Eliezer on Saturday could change that.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Netanya hosts Hapoel Acre, Bnei Yehuda visits Bnei Sakhnin and Ramat Hasharon welcomes Hapoel Haifa.
Betar Jerusalem’s match against Hapoel Tel Aviv and Ironi Kiryat Shmona’s encounter with Hapoel Beersheba were postponed to October 29 due to Tel Aviv’s and Kiryat Shmona’s participation in the Europa League.