Local Soccer: Hap TA fighting for its Premier League life

Hosts Maccabi Herzliya on Saturday in a match which neither team can afford to lose.

Hapoel Tel Aviv 298.88 (photo credit: )
Hapoel Tel Aviv 298.88
(photo credit: )
Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Herzliya on Saturday night in a match which quite simply neither team can afford to lose. Hapoel, which is one point in front of Ashdod SC and the relegation zone, picked up three crucial points with a 3-2 victory over Bnei Yehuda last week and will be in a confident mood ahead of Saturday's encounter after winning four of its last five matches at Bloomfield Stadium. Herzliya, which beat the reds 2-0 when they first met this season at Bloomfield, defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 last week for its first win in six matches, but is still just one point ahead of Hapoel. Another crucial relegation battle will take place at Bloomfield on Sunday when Maccabi Tel Aviv, which is tied on points with Herzliya, hosts an Ashdod team which has won its last two matches. Maccabi Haifa can take another significant step towards UEFA Cup qualification on Saturday when it hosts Ironi Kiryat Shmona. Haifa claimed just its second win in eight league matches at Maccabi Netanya last week and another victory against Ran Ben-Shimon's men will put the team in prime position to finish the season with a European berth. Kiryat Shmona suffered a disappointing 1-0 home loss to Bnei Sakhnin last week and will be playing for the first time since Ben-Shimon announced on Wednesday that he'll be leaving the club at the end of the season. Also Saturday, Sakhnin hosts Bnei Yehuda, Netanya visits Maccabi Petah Tikva and Betar Jerusalem goes on the road to face Hapoel Kfar Saba.