Davidovich and Badier bid farewell

Maccabi Haifa beats Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-2 as D and B cap memorable careers.

Nir Davidovich and Walid Badier 370 (photo credit: Uzi Gal)
Nir Davidovich and Walid Badier 370
(photo credit: Uzi Gal)
The careers of Nir Davidovich and Walid Badier ended with an emotional standing ovation after the two legends made their final Premier League appearances before officially retiring on Saturday night.
Davidovich’s Maccabi Haifa beat Badier’s Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-2 in their final match of the season at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, but the otherwise meaningless showdown was all about the retirement of two of the league’s all-time greats.
Following a moving farewell ceremony before kickoff, Hapoel twice held the lead, first through Ramzi Sfuri (36) and then thanks to Badier (50), who also scored the first goal of his career against Maccabi Haifa in October 1993.
Badier’s goal, just his second of the season, came less than two minutes after Alon Turgeman equalized for Haifa. The Greens leveled the score once more courtesy of Yaniv Katan’s strike (74) and Daniel Haber completed Haifa’s comeback five minutes from time.
However, the climax of the night arrived in stoppage time when first Badier and then Davidovich were substituted and embraced by both sets of players while being cheered by all in attendance.
“This was the most emotional moment of my career,” said the 36-yearold Davidovich, who made his debut for Haifa in November 1995 and totaled 386 league appearances for the club. “The only thing on my mind was not to lose the final match of my career. I achieved everything I set out to in my career.”
Badier didn’t seem too concerned with ending his illustrious career with a defeat.
“I enjoyed every moment of my career,” said the 39-year-old Badier, who played his 533rd league match on Saturday, ranking him third alltime.
“I’m at peace with my decision. I’ve had enough. I’ll take a break now and then see what’s next. I had an amazing career.”
Also Saturday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona beat Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 1-0 thanks to Shimon Abu Hazeira’s 43rd-minute winner.
The 39-year-old Salah Hasarma, who announced his retirement earlier in the day, missed a chance to cap his career with a goal, missing a penalty in the 23rd minute.
Champion Maccabi Tel Aviv will host Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium in the final match of the 2012/13 campaign on Monday.
On Friday, Hapoel Ra’anana joined Maccabi Petah Tikva in gaining promotion to the Premier League.
Ra’anana defeated Hapoel Jerusalem 3-1 in the final weekend of the season for its seventh straight win since coach Menahem Koretzki took charge of the side.
Ra’anana edged Hapoel Upper Nazareth to end the season in second place and returns to the top flight three years after being relegated.
Maccabi Petah Tikva won the National League championship to earn promotion back to the Premier League after just one season in the second division.
On TV: Maccabi Rishon Lezion vs Hapoel Eilat (live on Sport 5 at 7:30 p.m.)