Hap TA looks to regroup from four-game skid vs K8

Hapoel’s first 4-0 defeat in almost 6 years was also its 4th straight loss in league action and saw it fall 11 points behind league-leader Maccabi.

OMER DAMARI Hapoel Tel Aviv 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
OMER DAMARI Hapoel Tel Aviv 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
They say that when it rains it pours.
Well, the monsoon alarm bells must be ringing at Hapoel Tel Aviv.
The 4-0 humbling at the hands of Maccabi Tel Aviv in the derby on Monday night not only marked an embarrassing low in club history, but also forced Hapoel to reevaluate its goals for the season.
Hapoel’s first 4-0 defeat in almost six years was also its fourth straight loss in league action and saw it fall 11 points behind league-leader Maccabi.
The Reds have been outscored 0-12 in their current losing streak, and while they still have plenty of time to return to the title race with 14 matches remaining, Hapoel is currently praying it just manages to make the top-six championship playoffs.
After two rounds of play and a total of 26 matches, the league will be split into two sections. The top six teams will play each other twice more (10 matches in total) to decide the champion, while the bottom eight sides will play each other once more (seven matches in total) to determine the relegation battle.
Only four points currently separate Hapoel and Beitar Jerusalem in seventh place with four more matches to be played until the playoffs begin.
Of Hapoel’s remaining four matches, three are against teams also fighting for a place in the top-six, including Saturday’s opponent at Bloomfield Stadium, reigning- champion Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Hapoel will be without striker Toto Tamuz on Saturday after he was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday for repeated disciplinary infringements.
Coach Yossi Abuksis will also have to manage once more without midfielder Gili Vermut, who will have to undergo further surgery on his thigh and is expected to miss at least eight more weeks and possibly the remainder of the season.
Furthermore, Hapoel will need to host its next three home matches away from Bloomfield. The Israel Football Association disciplinary court punished the club for a banner raised by fans in a match at Ashdod SC two months ago which read: “Pnini to the gas,” referring to Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball player, Guy Pnini.
Hapoel plans to appeal the decision.
“This has been one of our toughest weeks and we are sorry for the disappointment and pain we caused our fans,” midfielder Salim Toama told the club’s official Facebook page.
“We know we need to work hard to regain our honor and I’m certain that on Saturday against Kiryat Shmona things will look different.”
Second-placed Maccabi Haifa, which is three points ahead of Hapoel, will look to close within five points of Maccabi Tel Aviv, at least for 48 hours, when it visits Bnei Sakhnin on Saturday.
The yellow-and-blue doesn’t face Bnei Yehuda until Monday night.
Also on Saturday, Hapoel Ramat Gan hosts Hapoel Beersheba, Maccabi Netanya visits Hapoel Ramat Hasharon and Hapoel Acre plays Ashdod.
Beitar Jerusalem visits Hapoel Haifa on Sunday.