Local Soccer: Levin set for debut as Hap TA head coach

Visits Maccabi Netanya in Matchday 20 of the Premier League following veteran coah Yitzhak Schum's departure.

Hapoel Tel Aviv 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv will be looking to get off to a positive start under new coach Nir Levin when it visits Maccabi Netanya in Matchday 20 of the Premier League on Saturday. Veteran coach Yitzhak Schum was let go by the team management earlier this week, a move which has caused some unrest at the club. Influential captain Yossi Abuksis is expected to be absent from Saturday's match, as he is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered during the Russia Channel One Cup. The veteran midfielder has participated in light training drills, but is opting to rest ahead of next week's UEFA Cup match against Glasgow Rangers. Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv are tied on 32 points, six points behind league-leader Betar Jerusalem. Maccabi Tel Aviv, which is on a 14-game unbeaten streak, hosts a Maccabi Herzliya club that is desperate to escape the relegation zone. Avi Nimni has resumed full training and will be back in Eli Cohen's starting 11, which has made Maccabi the firm favorite going into the match. However, Freddy's David's squad is capable of denying Maccabi three points, after registering shock wins against Betar Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa last month. Ashdod SC will be looking to recover from last week's defeat to Maccabi Petah Tikva when it takes on Nitzan Shirazi's Bnei Yehuda. The "Dolphins" are dealing with injuries to key players, David Revivo and Christian Gonzales, who are unavailable for Saturday's match. Defending champion Maccabi Haifa will be looking to snap its three-game losing streak when it travels to take on Hapoel Petah Tikva. Roni Levy's charges are now seventh in the standings, with the coach becoming the primary target of the fans' frustration. Levy will be without the services of veteran left-back Adoram Keisi, who was injured in last week's loss to Betar Jerusalem. Haim Magrashvili will replace Keisi in the starting lineup, which is expected to be shuffled ahead of the crucial match. "All teams go through tough times, but only great teams know how to overcome the problems," Levy said. "We have to get back to our winning ways. There are many challenges ahead of us this season and this is the time to produce a solid team effort." Hapoel Kfar Saba faces Uri Malmilian's Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan, with both teams eager to escape the relegation zone. A win for Eli Ohana's team would dent Ramat Gan's hopes of survival in the top division. Betar Jerusalem will be looking to cement its place at the top of the standings when Maccabi Petah Tikva visits Teddy Stadium in the Matchday 20 finale on Sunday night. Betar's 3-0 victory over Maccabi Haifa last week hindered the other title challengers' cause and Sunday's match will be another stern test, with Petah Tikva coming off a victory over Ashdod SC last week. Betar is currently enjoying a six-point advantage over its rivals, but anything less than a win could open up the title race again. Yossi Mizrahi has yet to announce his starting lineup, with prolific striker Barak Yitzhaki returning to training and being declared match-fit by the team physicians. Ghanaian midfielder Derek Boateng is also expected to return from suspension.