Local Soccer: Hapoel Acre aims to stop Maccabi Haifa
Basketball Hapoel Acre
By ALLON SINAI
After snapping Hapoel Tel Aviv's eight-match winning streak on Tuesday, Hapoel Acre will try and derail Maccabi Haifa's championship charge on Saturday.
Acre began the season with three defeats in its first four matches, but has lost just once in its past 11 encounters, winning two games and remarkably drawing 1-1 seven times.
Tuesday's match against Tel Aviv also ended in a 1-1 deadlock and Acre will be more than happy to settle for that score line once more at the Green Stadium in Nazareth on Saturday.
Haifa, however, has an almost perfect record half way into the season, winning 14 of 15 matches, with its only defeat coming against Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium.
Haifa's surprising star in the first round of matches has been striker Shlomi Arbeitman, who has scored 14 goals to date. "We have recorded an amazing achievement by winning 14 of 15 matches, but the title race is only going to be decided in the final weeks of the season," Arbeitman said. "I'm playing much more this season and I'm coming up with the goods. I'm working hard and proving myself on the field."
A victory for Haifa will give it an 11-point margin over second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv, which hosts Betar Jerusalem on Monday.
Bnei Sakhnin hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday, but the match will be played at National Stadium in Ramat Gan. Sakhnin's Doha Stadium was shutdown indefinitely by police earlier this week following violent clashes between Sakhnin and Ahi Nazareth fans after a 1-1 draw between the teams on Saturday.
Sakhnin is in desperate need for points after winning just once in its last 12 games, but Maccabi has played well recently, winning four of six matches, including last week's instant classic 4-3 victory over Betar.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ra'anana hosts Hapoel Beersheba, Maccabi Netanya visits Hapoel Haifa, Bnei Yehuda welcomes Ashdod SC and Ahi Nazareth travels down south to face rock-bottom Hapoel Petah Tikva. Hapoel Ramat Gan hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva on Sunday.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Betar was drawn to face Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Toto Cup semifinals, with Maccabi Haifa to play Hapoel Ra'anana.
The semifinals will be held on January 13 at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
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