Big-name clubs aim to save face in State Cup quarters

AFTER DISAPPOINTING Premier League seasons, both Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv will be aiming to reach the State Cup semifinals on Tuesday.

Hapoel Tel Aviv against Maccabi Haifa 390 (photo credit: Screenshot)
Hapoel Tel Aviv against Maccabi Haifa 390
(photo credit: Screenshot)
Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv will be looking to salvage something from a season both clubs would rather forget when they target a place in the State Cup semifinals on Tuesday.
The first two tickets to the semis at National Stadium in Ramat Gan will be handed out on Monday when Maccabi Petah Tikva hosts Ashdod SC and Maccabi Herzliya of the National League visits Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.
However, the highlight of the last eight will come on Tuesday when Maccabi Netanya welcomes Hapoel Tel Aviv before Maccabi Haifa faces National League side Hapoel Upper Nazareth.
Netanya knocked out newly-crowned champ Ironi Kiryat Shmona in the cup’s last 16, and had also won four straight league games before falling 1-0 to Bnei Yehuda last week.
Hapoel Tel Aviv had a front row seat to Kiryat Shmona’s title celebrations after the northerners clinched the championship with a 0-0 draw against the Reds last Monday, leaving Nitzan Shirazi’s men with just a single win over their last seven league matches.
Hapoel also needed extra-time to get the better of Bnei Lod to reach the quarterfinals of the cup and Shirazi knows his team will have to be at its best to get the better of Netanya and keep alive its bid for a third straight cup triumph.
“This is the toughest draw either team could have got,” Shirazi said. “But if you want to win the cup you need to know how to win difficult matches.”
Maccabi Haifa’s 3-0 victory over Ashdod SC last Monday saw it move tied on points with second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv in the league standings , but Greens coach Elisha Levy knows the only way he can end his four-year tenure on a high is by lifting the cup.
Barring an unexpected development, Levy will be leaving Haifa in the summer, with Netanya coach Reuven Atar the favorite to replace him. Haifa has won seven championships since the turn of the century, two under Levy, but it has gone 14 years since it last claimed the cup and it will be a firm favorite to advance to the semis against Nazareth, which is fighting against relegation to the third division.