Local Soccer: One (league title) down, one (cup) left to go for Mac Haifa

Team back in training just hours after claiming its sixth Premier League title in nine years.

maccabi haifa champions 248 88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
maccabi haifa champions 248 88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa was back in training on Sunday morning, just hours after claiming its sixth Premier League title in nine years and 11th in club history. Haifa only celebrated mildly after Saturday's 2-0 victory at Maccabi Netanya, which gave it an unassailable lead at the top of the standings, knowing it still has one more match to win to turn an excellent season into an historic one. The team faces Betar Jerusalem in the State Cup final at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Tuesday and a victory will give it a second league and cup double in club history and a first since 1991. "This is a great championship," said Yaniv Katan, who was also a part of the Haifa sides which won four championships in five seasons before the Arkadi Gaydamak-backed Betar Jerusalem dominated the league in the last two years. "It might not have been the most pretty of championships, but it was won with a lot of heart and soul," Katan added. "I say this each time we win the title, but this season really was special. "No one expected us to end it as champions, but with a lot of hard work and determination we have won the league once more. Now we need to win the cup to cap a perfect season." The 38-year-old Alon Harazi, who set a new Premier League appearances record this season, isn't celebrating his ninth championship just yet, as he's remaining focused on repeating the club's triumphant double season from 18 years ago, which also happened to be his debut season in Haifa. "I'm very excited at winning the championship even though this is the ninth time I've done so," Harazi said. "I can't put the emotions into words, but I'm also very focused on Tuesday's cup final. That is our next goal. "If we can take the cup this will be an extraordinary season which won't be forgotten for many years."