LOCAL SOCCER: Mac Haifa riding five-match win streak

Mac Tel Aviv and Bnei Yehuda are hoping Maccabi Haifa finally gets tripped up this weekend.

Maccabi Tel Aviv and Bnei Yehuda are hoping Maccabi Haifa finally gets tripped up this weekend. Haifa, the reigning league champion, is in first place after winning its first five games of the season for a total of 15 points, while the two Tel Aviv squads are in second and third, tied on points (10). Betar Jerusalem, in fourth with nine points, hosts archrival Hapoel Tel Aviv visits Teddy Stadium on Sunday. Pointless Bnei Sakhnin hosts Bnei Yehuda on Friday afternoon to kick off Matchday 6. It will be the team's first true home match in the top division as construction of the new Sakhnin stadium has been completed, thanks to Betar chairman Arkadi Gaydamak's generous $400,000 donation over the summer. Bnei Yehuda is coming into this game after spectacular comebacks in its last two games, and will be looking to continue its run in the top half of the table. Talented playmaker Ben Luz has recovered from his injury and will be available for this fixture. Maccabi Haifa will face a stern test when Motti Ivanir's Upper Nazareth visits Kiryat Eliezer Stadium. The reigning champions have had a smooth domestic campaign so far, but there has been a lot of unrest behind the scenes. After Roberto Colautti and Dekel Keinan exchanged blows last week in practice, it was Idan Tal's and Rafael Olara's turn this week. The competition for a place in the starting lineup has taken its toll and many bench players have expressed their desire to play regular first team soccer. On the positive side, Colautti has resumed running drills and might make his comeback this weekend. The Argentinean marksman has been suffering from a severe ankle strain the last two weeks. Title challenger Maccabi Tel Aviv, fresh off its win at Ashdod SC last week, will host the talented but unstable Hapoel Petah Tikva. Tel Aviv is the clear favorite to collect all three points from this game, but has already failed to deliver in similar situations. Coach Nir Klinger is not planning any changes and will start his star trio of Eyal Berkovic, Giovanni Rosso and Avi Nimni. Jose Duarte will probably start up front, replacing veteran Ophir Ben Haim, who scored last week's winner. Hapoel Petah Tikva is a team in trouble, with many fans demonstrating against Meir Shamir, claiming that he is still involved in the team's management despite having sold the club to Ronen Gilad last summer. Maccabi Netanya hosts Ashdod SC at "The Box" and is hoping to keep its winning streak alive. The yellows have won their last two games very convincingly and will try to stay away from the relegation zone. Netanya coach Reuven Atar is having a tough time as key defenders Ofer Talker and Golan Hermon missed this week's training sessions and lack match fitness. Betar Jerusalem, which has yet to appoint a permanent coach, hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday evening. The yellow-and-black is expecting a sell-out crowd at Teddy Stadium and around 2,000 redclad fans are also expected to make their presence felt. After losing to Palermo despite its spirited performance, Maccabi Petah Tikva will take on Hapoel Kfar Saba on Monday afternoon, in what seems to be a relatively easy home fixture.