Ben-Shimon gets the coaching call at Hap TA

Merry-go-round continues; Bnei Yehuda shuts out champion Mac TA in final game of season.

Ran Ben-Shimon 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ran Ben-Shimon 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After one season of self-imposed exile in Cyprus, Ran Ben-Shimon will be back coaching in the Israeli Premier League next season after signing a two-year contract to guide Hapoel Tel Aviv on Monday.
The 42-year-old led Ironi Kiryat Shmona to an historic championship in the 2011/12 season, but fell out with owner Izzy Sheratzky and decided to join AEK Larnaca of the Cypriot league after failing to land a job at Maccabi Tel Aviv or Maccabi Haifa.
Ben-Shimon guided Larnaca to fourth place and the cup semifinal, but elected to return to Israel after Hapoel came calling.
“I’m really excited,” said Ben-Shimon.
“I’m joining a big club and I know what’s at stake. I have a lot of work ahead of me but I’m looking forward to this challenge.”
Hapoel ended the 2012/13 season in third place, but it will want to forget about its campaign as quickly as possible.
Nitzan Shirazi began the season as Hapoel coach, but he was replaced by Yossi Abuksis after falling ill. Abuksis was sacked in February, with Freddy David coaching Hapoel in its final 13 league matches.
Hapoel’s budget is expected to be dwarfed once more by that of champion Maccabi Tel Aviv and runner-up Maccabi Haifa next season, but after leading the unheralded Kiryat Shmona to the league title, Ben-Shimon is not feeling discouraged.
“I’m aware of our financial limits, but money isn’t everything in life,” he said. “Hapoel is a club which always sets out to win every title at the start of the season. We will start to work and build a team and will then be able to set concrete targets.”
On Sunday, Ashdod SC announced the signing of Nir Klinger as coach following the departure of veteran Yossi Mizrahi, who will guide Maccabi Netanya in the National League next season.
Klinger’s Hapoel Haifa only avoided relegation to the National League in the last weekend of the season.
Shlomi Dora, who was sacked at Bnei Sakhnin last season, is set to replace Klinger at Haifa.
Maccabi Tel Aviv missed an opportunity to win the league by a record margin on Monday night, losing 3-0 to Bnei Yehuda in the final match of the 2012/13 season at Bloomfield Stadium.
Maccabi, which clinched the championship long ago, had a chance (if it won) to tie the record set by Maccabi Haifa in the 2005/06 season, with the Greens then taking the title by 16 points.
However, the yellow-and-blue rested most of its starters on Monday and ended its excellent season with a humbling loss.
Adam Hrepka gave Bnei Yehuda the lead in the 15th minute, with goals from Kfir Edri (85) and Amir Agajev (89) ensuring Dror Kashtan’s team ended the season in fourth place.