Local Soccer: Maccabi TA sack Cohen after poor start

One point in two league matches and embarrassing loss to Andorran club Santa Coloma in UEFA Cup convince Tel Aviv's owners to rid of the coach.

cohen 88 (photo credit: )
cohen 88
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Tel Aviv wasted no time in sacking coach Eli Cohen on Saturday night, just hours after he guided the team to a 3-2 loss to Maccabi Petah Tikva. Cohen led Maccabi to a third place finish last season, but one point in two league matches and an embarrassing loss to Andorran club Santa Coloma in the UEFA Cup convinced Tel Aviv's owners to rid of the coach. Meanwhile Betar Jerusalem coach Itzhak Schum will return to his former club Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday in the final game of the second round of the Israeli Premier League, relishing the opportunity to get one over on the team he was sacked from midway through last season. Betar already has an advantage over its arch-rival from Tel Aviv, having won its first game 3-0 over Bnei Yehuda last Sunday, the day before Hapoel struggled to a 0-0 draw with Maccabi Netanya. Betar has already beaten Hapoel once this season, albeit in the Toto Cup before the league campaign began. While the heated atmosphere of a packed Bloomfield Stadium will increase the pressure on the teams, both know the significance of gaining an early lead in the race for the league title Betar is seeking to retain and Hapoel wants to win for the first time since 2000. As well as replacing their coaches, both teams added to their squads over the summer. Schum's main coup, bringing Idan Tal from Bolton Wanderers, has so far failed to pay off, with the midfielder performing poorly in his opening games. Brazilian striker Romulo has been another disappointment. Romulo will start on the substitutes bench, with Toto Tamuz again taking his place. Tal, however, will be included in the first 11, and appeared confident ahead of Sunday's game. Pointing to the 2-0 Toto Cup win, Tal told the official Betar website: "Hapoel is already worried about us because of the previous game which was a serious match. At this level the teams want to win every game between them. But this is a new game which will begin at 0-0 and the previous game is no longer relevant. We will have to work hard to get the result." ON TV: Hapoel Tel Aviv vs Betar Jerusalem (live at 8:50 p.m. on Channel 10) (Allon Sinai contributed to this report.)