Betar fans jubilant after cup final win

Ecstatic Betar Jerusalem supporters celebrated well into Wednesday morning along the Ayalon highway and throughout the J'lem.

Betar 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Ecstatic Betar Jerusalem supporters celebrated well into Wednesday morning along the Ayalon highway and throughout the city after their team finally won the State Cup on Tuesday night for the first time in 19 years. For hours after the final whistle thousands of fans dressed in yellow and black took to the streets of the capital, overtaken with joy at the 5-4 penalty shoot out victory over longtime-foe Hapoel Tel Aviv. Crowds gathered in Safra Square, the traditional celebration point, and outside the Hauman 17 nightclub where the players partied late into the night. The game was a tense affair played out at a National Stadium in Ramat Gan packed to the rafters with Betar fans far outnumbering their opposition counterparts. It went to penalties after the score remained 0-0 after 90 minutes and half an hour of extra time. After it was all over there was an outpouring of emotion with many Betar fans seemingly unable to believe Jerusalem had overcome the team which it lost to, also on penalties, in the 1999 and 2000 finals. Attention now turns to Betar's Israeli Premier League game against second-placed Maccabi Netanya, where a Jerusalem win would clinch the league title and secure a first ever league and cup double for the club. The win was particularly significant for Betar coach Itzhak Schum, who had never previously won a trophy with an Israeli team. "I won a double in my first season [coaching] at [Greek team] Panathinaikos and I hope I can accomplish that at Betar as well. This is the dream of every coach," Schum said. Betar goalkeeper Tvrtko Kale was the hero of the night, saving two penalties in succession to give his team the win. "Penalties are my specialty. I enjoy them. I knew I could save the penalties and help my team to the cup," he said confidently. Hapoel coach Eli Gutman was unsurprisingly in a downbeat mood after the game. "This is very disappointing and we learned tonight how cruel the cup can sometimes be. We were one kick away from winning." he said. "I told my players that I'm proud of them and that this is soccer. It's sad, but you have to accept it." Mizrahi returns to coach Ashdod Yossi Mizrahi held his first training session as Ashdod SC coach on Wednesday and was optimistic the team can maintain its Premier League status in the final three matches of the season. Mizrahi, who agreed to help his former team after ending the season at Cypriot club Apollon Limassol last week, also promised that he will remain Ashdod's coach even should the team get relegated. "We don't have much time and we must begin to work right away if we want to stay in the league," said Mizrahi, who will replace interim coach Haim Revivo. "The team's players are good enough to survive and we all must believe that this is possible." Ashdod is currently last in the Premier League with 30 points, but is just two points behind Bnei Yehuda and safety. Mizrahi guided Betar Jerusalem to the league title last season, joined Maccabi Petah Tikva in the summer but left Israel earlier this season to coach in Cyprus.