Local Soccer: Schum likely to be sacked after Betar's European exit

Betar Jerusalem coach Itzhak Schum's days at the club appear to be numbered following the Israeli champion's embarrassing 5-0 defeat at Wisla Krakow in a Champions League qualifier. The match in Poland on Wednesday was seen as the culmination of last season's league and cup win. But the supposedly star-studded team from the capital failed to build on its 2-1 first leg league and crashed out of European competition at the first hurdle for the second year in a row. By Thursday night there had been no official comment on the security of Schum's position at Betar, but rumors abounded that he and Professional Manager Giora Spiegel would be shown the door on Monday. It is believed that either Eli Ohana could return to the club for a third stint as coach or Uri Malmilian could take charge of the club where he became a legend in the 1970s and '80s. Betar Jerusalem President Arkadi Gaydamak did his best to hide his disappointment, but on Thursday he told sports Web site One he had already made a decision which would be made public on Monday, after the fast of Tisha Be'av. Few fans turned out to greet the players and management as they returned to Israel on Thursday. Earlier, Schum apologized to the team's fans for the poor performance. "We are very disappointed and we say sorry to the Betar supporters, those who traveled here to watch the game and those who stayed in Israel for the result," Schum said. "At the end of the day the better team won." To show that he intends to continue in the job, Schum said he wanted to begin focusing on the coming season and retaining the league and State Cup titles won last term. Captain Arik Benado, who was at the center of Jerusalem's poor defensive display in Poland, said he felt the game was all over at half time when Krakow had already gone 3-0 up. "This was a big disappointment. I can not point a finger at any one individual. I thought we had prepared well but we did play a weak game. It doesn't matter why or how, we played badly," Benado said. Betar will now begin focusing on the local campaign, which begins on Saturday with a Toto Cup game at Maccabi Haifa.