Local Soccer: Ashdod SC relying on new signing Makriev to pull it to safety

When the Bulgarian striker joined the team in January, it seemed to be facing certain relegation.

dimitar makriev 88 (photo credit: )
dimitar makriev 88
(photo credit: )
When Bulgarian striker Dimitar Makriev joined Ashdod SC in January the team seemed to be facing certain relegation. The club's fans had already lost patience and were calling for the head of coach Alon Hazan after a 12-match winless streak looked to have doomed the side to life in the second division. Makriev's arrival from Slovenian club Maribor in January, however, proved to be a masterstroke as he injected new life into the team, scoring nine goals in his last 10 matches to help Ashdod climb out of the relegation zone. Ashdod has now won three of its last four matches, with Makriev, who as a teenager was signed by Inter Milan, scoring twice in last week's crucial 2-1 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv. The team faces another six-point relegation battle on Saturday when it visits the team that replaced them in the relegation zone, Maccabi Herzliya. Herzliya, on the other hand, has only won once in its last eight matches and in the last two weeks has lost to two of the worst teams in the league, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Bnei Yehuda. Freddy David's men will know that victory on Saturday is an absolute must, especially when considering that in its next two matches Herzliya will play the league's top two sides - Betar Jerusalem and Maccabi Netanya. Maccabi Tel Aviv, which climbed to seventh in the standings with the one point it picked up last Sunday against Betar, hosts Maccabi Netanya on Saturday knowing a win will give its survival hopes a massive boost. Despite its lowly position, the yellow-and-blue has managed to win three of its last six matches, far better than second-placed Netanya, which has triumphed only once in its last six encounters. Maccabi Petah Tikva will look to score its first goal since February 16 when it hosts Bnei Sakhnin on Saturday. Guy Luzon's men have lost four straight games and are at the moment the poorest team in the Premier League. Also Saturday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Bnei Yehuda and Ironi Kiryat Shmona visits Hapoel Kfar Saba. On Sunday, Bloomfield Stadium will be jam-packed for Hapoel Tel Aviv's match against Betar Jerusalem.