Local Soccer: Betar to host Sakhnin in front of empty stands

"The fans absence hurts the team. They give us a push and are part of Betar's strength," says Jerusalem defender David Amsalem.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Betar Jerusalem hosts Bnei Sakhnin in front of empty stands at Teddy Stadium on Saturday night amid its continuous squabbling with the Israel Football Association. On Wednesday, the IFA's High Court rejected Betar's appeal of its one match crowd ban, infuriating the club's chairman Eli Arazi. "I think the judges had made their decision before even coming to the tribunal. When I come to the High Court to appeal something that I feel is wrong and the judges won't even listen to what I have to say I get enraged," Arazi said after the appeal was turned down. Betar was punished two weeks ago after an IFA tribunal found the club guilty of its fans racist abuse during the Toto Cup semifinals in December. Jerusalem supporters chanted insults against the prophet Muhammad during Sakhnin's semifinal match against Bnei Yehuda while they were waiting for the start of their team's game against Maccabi Haifa. "We were very upset when we heard the appeal was rejected," Jerusalem defender David Amsalem told the club's official Web site. "It will be tough to play in front of empty stands, especially against a team of Sakhnin's quality. "The fans absence hurts the team. They give us a push and are part of Betar's strength. Nevertheless, there's no excuse, we can and must win." Jerusalem's 1-1 draw with Maccabi Herzliya last week ended its three-match win streak and also cut short its seven-game run of clean sheets. Despite dropping two points, Betar is still nine points clear at the top of the standings and is on its way to one of the most predictable championships in Israeli soccer history. Sakhnin will also be looking to return to winning ways after only drawing its last three matches. Hapoel Tel Aviv will be hoping to build on its win over Bnei Yehuda last week, when it hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba at Bloomfield Stadium. Tel Aviv has won just two matches so far and hasn't scored more than one goal in any one match this season. The team's two new Bulgarian signings, Elin Topuzakov and Dimitar Telkiyski, are expected to play on Saturday, but Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama will miss the match due to his participation in the African Cup of Nations. Netanya will look to solidify second position in the standings with a win against Ashdod on Saturday. Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Petah Tikva, Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Bnei Sakhnin are all within one points of Netanya, which has ended its last two matches in goalless draws. Ashdod is in desperate need of points in its fight against relegation after failing to win in its last seven matches. Petah Tikva travels up north to face Kiryat Shmona in search of its first win in four matches. Bnei Yehuda hosts Maccabi Herzliya at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday in a match that could go a long way to determining the battle for Premier League survival. The southern Tel Aviv team has lost nine straight matches and faces a Herzliya side that hasn't claimed all three points in its last six games. On Sunday, the resurgent Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Haifa, which has lost just once in its last 11 matches.