Local Soccer: Guy Luzon returns to face Hapoel Tel Aviv

Just two months after he was chased out of Hapoel Tel Aviv, Guy Luzon will return to Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday night to face his former team with Maccabi Petah Tikva. After winning just once in 10 league matches Hapoel fans left their management with no real option but tell Luzon that he's no longer welcome at the club. The Reds supporters made Luzon's life a misery by calling for his resignation before, during and after every match the team played, and eventually got their wish when the 32-year-old coach left the club at the end of November. Tel Aviv hasn't fared that well since Luzon's departure, with new coach Eli Gutman winning just two of eight matches. The team has, however, played slightly better in recent weeks and has picked up four points in its last three matches. Nevertheless, Hapoel is only kept out of the relegation zone by its superior goal difference over Ashdod SC. Luzon, who rejoined Petah Tikva at the start of last week, led his team to a 1-0 victory over Bnei Yehuda in his first match in charge last weekend. He may not be willing to admit it, but he will surely be desperate to get one over his former club on Saturday and prove to the Hapoel fans that they were wrong to blame him for their team's failure. Also Saturday, Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Bnei Yehuda in yet another six-point relegation battle that could prove to be crucial when all is said and done. Maccabi, which held Betar Jerusalem to a 0-0 draw last week, is six points above rock-bottom Bnei Yehuda, which lost for the 11th time in its last 13 matches last Saturday. "This is a very tough match. A match that is far more important than the game against Betar," Tel Aviv coach Nir Levin said on Thursday. "This is a relegation battle and the result will be very significant." Like Luzon, Bnei Yehuda coach Eli Cohen will also be facing his former team on Saturday after being sacked by Maccabi following a loss in the second match of the season. "I haven't got revenge on my mind. I love Maccabi and my sacking by the club was not a professional decision." Ashdod, which hasn't won in 11 league matches, visits Maccabi Herzliya in another match that will have implications on the relegation battle. Herzliya, which defeated Bnei Sakhnin 3-0 last week, is six points clear of the relegation zone and can take a significant step to securing another season in the Premier League with a victory on Saturday. Second-placed Maccabi Netanya, which has won its last two matches and kept a clean sheet in its last seven games, hosts on Saturday third-placed Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which is unbeaten in its last 12 matches. Also Saturday, Bnei Sakhnin hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba. On Sunday, Betar will look to return to winning ways when it hosts Maccabi Haifa at Teddy Stadium.