Local soccer: Kfar Saba hurts Mac Haifa's chances

Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan stumbles in relegation battle.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Hapoel Kfar Saba handed Maccabi Haifa its 10th loss of the Premier League season on Saturday. Eli Ohana's squad recorded a 1-0 upset of the defending league champion, which was hoping to collect all three points and make a last-gasp challenge for third place and a spot in next season's UEFA Cup qualifying. However, Guillermo Israilevich's 76th-minute strike proved to be the match-winner for Hapoel Kfar Saba. "A very poor performance," admitted Haifa coach Roni Levy. "We failed to disturb Kfar Saba's rhythm and were completely outplayed today. I must say that we don't deserve to play in Europe next season. We'll have to refresh our squad this summer." On the other hand, Hapoel Kfar Saba was out to prove something. "We needed this win," said Ohana. "This was the season's last home game and we owed this win to our fans. We lost many valuable points at home this year, but we have many young players and this team will keep improving." Betar Jerusalem will play its "championship game" Sunday night against Hapoel Tel Aviv, the first of four radius matches following last week's disturbances at Teddy Stadium. Jerusalem's fans are eager to make their presence felt and hundreds are expected to hamper the security arrangements at Winter Stadium in Ramat Gan. Betar owner Arkadi Gaydamak, unsatisfied with his team's form, has promised radical changes in the front office at the end of the season. Coach Yossi Mizrahi is expected to be released or demoted, with Giora Spiegel being mentioned as the leading candidate to take control of technical operations. Hapoel Kfar Saba 1,Maccabi Haifa 0 Roni Levy started Alain Masudi up front, as Roberto Colautti was declared unfit to play the full 90 minutes. Haifa failed to impress while Kfar Saba played a tight, containment game and constructed numerous counterattacks. With the crowd at Levita Stadium growing restless due to the defensive and uninspired game, both coaches made attacking substitutions. Haifa inserted Colautti, while Ohana called on veteran Oren Nissim to bolster his team. Kfar Saba's winner followed a swift raid from the left flank. Samuel Yeboah dribbled past his marker and found substitute Nissim in the box. The seasoned striker located Israilevich, who provided a clinical, close-range finish. Hak Amidar Ramat Gan 0, Maccabi Tel Aviv 2 Ramat Gan knew that anything less than a win would dent its chances of climbing above the relegation line. Hakoah played relentless attacking soccer, but Tel Aviv struck first when Yuval Shpungin scored from the edge of the box with a well-placed flick. Maccabi stepped up the pressure in the second half and scored yet again in the 64th minute. Yossi Shivhon, who created the first goal, found the back of the net from long range and put the game beyond Ramat Gan's reach. "I'm glad to see these young players improving," said Maccabi coach Eli Cohen. "The club has rebounded well from last season's 'Galacticos Project.' I'm very optimistic about this team's future and playing in Europe next season will contribute to our development." Hapoel Petah Tikva 1,Maccabi Petah Tikva 1 Petah Tikva's final derby of the season was held in a surprisingly sporting and friendly atmosphere, as Hapoel has already clinched relegation to the National League. It was the 100th clash between the arch-rivals and the match provided its usual dose of drama. The "Luzons" dominated in the first half and created numerous goal-scoring opportunities, humiliating Hapoel's hapless defense. Omer Golan scored for Maccabi in the 40th minute after receiving a slick assist from Blessing Kaku. Just when it seemed like Maccabi was on its way to increasing its lead and making a run for third place in the standings, Hapoel struck back. Shimon Abu Hatzira found the equalizer in the 70th minute with a close range header, salvaging some of his team's lost pride.