Local Soccer: Maccabi Haifa faces Hapoel Ra'anana as title race continues

Local Soccer Maccabi Ha

Maccabi Haifa's relentless march towards a second straight championship is set to continue on Saturday when the Greens host Hapoel Ra'anana at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium. Haifa has won 15 of its 16 Premier League matches so far, including a 31 victory over lowly Ra'anana in the second week of the season. Elisha Levy's team has kept a clean sheet in its last five matches, not conceding a goal since its 1-0 defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv on November 30. While Hapoel Tel Aviv has impressed with its free-flowing and high-scoring play, Haifa has been consistency personified this season, winning week in and week out, even when not performing to the best of its ability. One of the reasons for this has been Levy's insistence to treat every team with the utmost respect, poor as it may be. "Ra'anana is a dangerous team and can give any side trouble," Levy told his players on Thursday. "We will have to be ready and get the job done." Hapoel Tel Aviv is likely to encounter more problems than its title rival when it visits Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday. Petah Tikva snapped a seven-game winless streak last weekend, beating Hapoel Ramat Gan 3-0 on the road. Tel Aviv will also still be without goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who is away with the Nigeria national team for the African Cup of Nations, and defender Walid Badier, who was handed a further onematch suspension on Thursday for his outburst towards referee Haim Ya'akov after the team's 1-1 draw at Hapoel Acre. Maccabi Tel Aviv fans will hope their team wakes up on the right side of the bed on Saturday after the yellow-and-blue's erratic form has seen the side draw with the likes of Ahi Nazareth and Bnei Sakhnin in two of the last three weeks. Maccabi hosts the struggling Hapoel Petah Tikva, which is coming off its first victory since October. Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda visits Nazareth, Ashdod SC hosts Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Beersheba welcomes Ramat Gan. Maccabi Netanya hosts Acre on Sunday and Betar Jerusalem plays Bnei Sakhnin at Teddy Stadium on Monday. On TV: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Hapoel Petah Tikva (5:05 p.m.); Maccabi Petah Tikva vs Hapoel Tel Aviv (7:20 p.m.). Both games live on Sport1.