Betar to face Mac TA in season opener

Betar J'lem's players don't know who will be coaching them next season, but they do know that their campaign will start with a tough test.

Betar Jerusalem's players may still not know who will be coaching them next season, but on Monday they found out the campaign will start with a tough test - at Bloomfield against Maccabi Tel Aviv. The League and Cup committee of the IFA has wasted no time in announcing next season's Premier League calendar, which has rekindled interest in the local soccer scene. The schedule, which is still pending the final approval of the IFA secretariat, has produced many intriguing fixtures in the opening weeks. Betar, which is still seeking an active replacement for former manager Luis Fernandez, takes on Eli Cohen's Maccabi Tel Aviv in the season opener on August 19. The Jerusalem giants will face difficult hurdles in the following games too, with archrival Hapoel Tel Aviv visiting Teddy Stadium in Game Day 2 of the upcoming season. Betar then takes on Eli Ohana's Hapoel Kfar Saba in a tricky away fixture to make it the toughest opening draw in the Premier League. The opening weekend will also feature a State Cup final rematch, when Nitzan Shirazi's Bnei Yehuda hosts Yitzhak Schum's rejuvenated Hapoel Tel Aviv in a Tel Aviv derby at the Bloomfield stadium. Maccabi Netanya, which is going through a major revolution under new owner Daniel Yammer, hosts reigning champion Maccabi Haifa at "The Box" in its first game of the season. Haifa will boast dynamic forward Alain Masudi, who was a major factor in Netanya's attack last season and left the club due to poor relations with the team's fans. Netanya manager Eyal Berkovic hosts his former team Maccabi Tel Aviv in Game Day 3, in what promises to be an emotionally charged encounter. Netanya will field veteran goalkeeper Liran Strauber and Ofir Haim, who left the yellow-and-blue earlier this month after failing to negotiate contract extensions.