Local Soccer: Nir Levin will not returnto coach Hapoel Tel Aviv

Decision comes just one day after guiding team to its second straight State Cup.

nir levin 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
nir levin 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Just a day after guiding Hapoel Tel Aviv to its second straight State Cup, coach Nir Levin announced on Thursday that he will be leaving the club at the end of the season. "After speaking with management, I decided to withdraw my candidacy for the coach's position next season," said Levin, whose contract expires at the end of this campaign. Regardless of his announcement, Levin's chances of guiding the club next year were very small. Hapoel's owners only gave him a four-month contract when he replaced Yitzhak Schum at the start of February and were reluctant to give him a contract extension even when the club was doing well. "When a coach doesn't have the 100 percent support of the management, he will not continue," Levin said. On Saturday, Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva in one of five Premier League matches. Maccabi Netanya could guarantee itself a place in European competition for the first time in its history Saturday evening with a victory over Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan. A Netanya win will also relegate Hakoah, which is four points from safety ahead of Matchday 32. Hapoel Tel Aviv's midweek State Cup triumph was extremely good news for Netanya as it means that even a fourth-place finish behind Hapoel will be enough for the team to book a UEFA Cup berth. Netanya has been unbeatable in recent weeks, winning four and drawing three in its last seven matches. The club has only conceded four goals since its last league loss on March 10 to Maccabi Tel Aviv and is only second to champion Betar Jerusalem in goals allowed so far this season. Hakoah, which has won only one of its last eight matches, knows that only victories in Netanya on Saturday and in its final match of the season against Ashdod SC will give it a slim hope of surviving. However, should Maccabi Herzliya win any of its remaining matches, Ramat Gan can start to prepare itself for life in the National League. Herzliya, which has lost its last two matches after winning four of its previous five, visits an indifferent Ashdod SC side on Saturday hoping its excellent scoring record will help it secure another season in the top flight. Maccabi has scored 45 goals this season, and despite its lowly position, is only second to Betar in goals scored. Maccabi Haifa needs to win its two remaining matches and for Netanya to lose until the end of the season to have any chance of an eighth straight season in European competition. Haifa coach Roni Levy is still hopeful and is determined to finish the season on a high. "I hope we will end the season with a good taste in our mouth. We don't want to disappoint the fans," he said. Haifa, which has lost its last two matches 1-0, hosts on Saturday a Bnei Yehuda side which guaranteed itself another season of Premier League soccer with a 3-2 victory over Ashdod SC last week. Maccabi Petah Tikva will have to defeat Hapoel Kfar Saba on Saturday to maintain its outside chance of qualifying for Continental competition. The side is undefeated in its last four matches, but has lost its two previous meetings with Kfar Saba this season, failing to score a goal in the two defeats. On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts newly-crowned champion Betar in a battle for pride between the top two teams in the standings.