Betar-Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer rivalry escalates

Both teams may be courting high-priced superstars.

betar jerusalem 88 (photo credit: )
betar jerusalem 88
(photo credit: )
The Premier League has provided very little surprises so far this season, but the Betar Jerusalem/Arkadi Gaydamak-Hapoel Tel Aviv/Lev Leviev rivalry is heating up with many big signings possible for both clubs. Gaydamak has allocated $10 million to manager Luis Fernandez in the hopes of luring a top-class striker in order to improve the yellow-and-black attack. Brazilian striker Aloisio has reportedly agreed on a three-year contract with Betar but his club, Sao Paulo, is reluctant to release him. The prolific striker is familiar to Fernandez, his former coach at Paris Saint Germain in the 1990s. On the other hand, Leviev is courting Israeli superstar Yossi Benayoun with a lucrative contract that would pay him around $3m. a year and is also close to signing former national coach Avraham Grant for next season. Hapoel Petah Tikva, which will try to recover from its controversial 2-2 draw with Maccabi Tel Aviv last week, faces Maccabi Netanya at "The Box" in Friday's Matchday 18 opening fixture. Television replays after Petah Tikva's game showed that Tel Aviv's penalty and Ori Uzan's sending off were unjustified and a result of the referee's misinterpretation. Betar Jerusalem should have little problems this weekend as it hosts last-place Hapoel Kfar Saba at Teddy Stadium. Kfar Saba is looking to build on its surprise 2-0 win over Maccabi Petah Tikva last week, in its mission to avoid relegation. Defensive midfielder Adam Kapic has been released by Betar to make room for another foreign player. Jeff Totuana and Mazua Ensombo have also failed to impress Fernandez and may be released by the end of the month. Ton Caanen's Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Bnei Yehuda in what promises to be a hot Tel Aviv derby, with both teams eager to rejoin the race for second place in the standings. Caanen has changed his tactical system following the team's poor performances and will now play only four defenders. Eyal Berkovic has resumed training and will probably be back in Maccabi's starting lineup. Abas Suan and Bnei Sakhnin host Dror Kashtan's Hapoel Tel Aviv in a game that means a lot to both teams. Sakhnin is looking to escape the danger zone, while Tel Aviv will be looking to solidify its position in second place. The Doha Stadium will be empty following the Israel Football Association ruling after the riots in the Sakhnin-Betar game. Sakhnin received good news earlier this week as its four-game ban was reduced to two matches. Motti Ivanir's Upper Nazareth travels south to play Maccabi Petah Tikva, hoping to improve on the traumatic 0-6 whitewash last week at the hands of Maccabi Haifa. Another loss could cost Petah Tikva coach Guy Luzon his job after the team is freefalling following a UEFA Cup campaign earlier this season. The "Luzons" are now 11th in the league after finishing in second last season. Maccabi Haifa hosts improving Ashdod SC at Kiryat Eliezer on Sunday in the final match of the weekend. Idan Tal has pledged his loyalty to Haifa and is expected to sign with the greens for four more years on Sunday. Veterans Alon Harazi and Arik Benado have also inked contract extensions that will keep them in the club through the 2007/08 season.