Local Soccer: State Cup last 16 all set to kick off

Mac Kabilio Jaffa’s Cinderella cup run seems all but certain to come to an end when it hosts Hap TA.

hapoel tel aviv itai shechter 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
hapoel tel aviv itai shechter 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Kabilio Jaffa’s Cinderella State Cup run seems all but certainto come to an end on Tuesday when it hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv in the last16 at the Superland Stadium in Rishon Lezion.
Jaffa became thefirst fourth division club in 47 years to reach the last 16 of the cuplast month after stunning National League leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona1-0 in the round of 32.
However, with Tel Aviv experiencingits best season in many years and seemingly scoring at will againstmany Premier League opponents, Jaffa will have to record the biggestsurprise in Israeli soccer history if it is to reach the quarterfinals.
Jaffa’keeper Gabi Burstein, who is also Hapoel’s goalkeeping coach, is stilla doubt for the match. Tel Aviv has told Burstein that he should notplay, but Jaffa is still hoping the goalkeeper will start, leavingBurstein to make the very difficult decision.
Hapoel assistantcoach Yossi Abuksis, who also plays for the amateur Jaffa team, willmiss the match and will be on the Tel Aviv sideline.
Tel Avivcoach Eli Gutman will make several changes to the team which beatHapoel Haifa 2-1 on Saturday, but will still be naming a strong lineup.
“We need to take the match seriously and we can’t afford to be complacent,” Gutman said.
Threemore last 16 matches will be played on Tuesday, with a Premier Leagueteam facing a National League side in each one of them. Bnei Yehudahosts Hapoel Ashkelon, Maccabi Petah Tikva visits Bnei Lod and HapoelPetah Tikva welcomes Hapoel Upper Nazareth.
Four more teams will progress to the quarters on Wednesday.
Themost hotly contested encounter is expected to be played at TeddyStadium where two-time defending cup holder Betar Jerusalem hostsMaccabi Tel Aviv.
In two more all Premier League ties, Maccabi Haifa visits Hapoel Ramat Gan and Ashdod SC hosts Bnei Sakhnin.
Also Wednesday, Ironi Ramat Hasharon welcomes Hapoel Beersheba.