Mac Haifa seeks to turn things around at PT

Sakhnin, Ra’anana hope to maintain unbeaten starts; Beersheba hosts Kiryat Shmona.

maccabi haifa players 370 (photo credit: Uzi Gal)
maccabi haifa players 370
(photo credit: Uzi Gal)
It has been almost two months since Maccabi Haifa last tasted victory.
Haifa seemed set to live up to its billing as Maccabi Tel Aviv’s main rival for the championship after recording a convincing 3-1 win over Ironi Kiryat Shmona in its Premier League opener way back in August 25, a triumph which came on the back of five wins in six matches in Europa League qualification.
However, in its seven matches since in all competitions, four in local league action and three in continental play, Haifa has failed to claim a single victory.
In four of Haifa’s past five games, the Greens haven’t even managed to score a single goal, including in their past three Premier League contests.
Haifa has recorded two consecutive 0- 0 deadlocks against Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Beersheba in its last two games after being steamrolled 3-0 by Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Arik Benado’s men find themselves in 10th place with five points from five matches, having won just one contest.
Maccabi Petah Tikva, which hosts Haifa on Saturday, has also got just one win to its name, but that came in its most recent match two weeks ago when it beat Bnei Yehuda 4-2 at Bloomfield Stadium.
Petah Tikva picked up just one point from its first four encounters of the campaign and the victory over Bnei Yehuda significantly eased the pressure on coach Moshe Sinai .
While Benado’s job also looks to be safe for the time being, he will surely remember how his predecessor Reuven Atar, who once seemed untouchable, was ultimately sent packing after Haifa had managed just one win in its first nine games.
Haifa has also got a Europa League group match at PAOK Thessaloniki to look forward to on Thursday, but no one at the club will be looking past the encounter at Petah Tikva.
The 0-0 draw between Haifa and Beersheba ended the latter’s perfect start to the season, but kept the southerners tied on points with league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Beersheba will look to get back to winning ways when it hosts Kiryat Shmona at Vasermil Stadium on Saturday.
“This is an important match for the remainder of our season and we must win at home,” said left-back Ofir Davidzada, who started for Israel in its final 2014 World Cup qualifier versus Northern Ireland on Tuesday. “We need to maintain our composure and stick to coach Elisha Levy’s game plan.”
Kiryat Shmona has gotten the season off to an erratic start, although its two losses have come against Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Besides Maccabi Haifa, the biggest disappointment of the season so far has been Bnei Yehuda. Fans have protested against coach Dror Kashtan and chairman Moshe Damaio in recent training sessions, with the team losing four consecutive matches since opening the campaign with a victory over Ashdod.
Bnei Yehuda has conceded four goals in two of its past three encounters, but visits another struggling side on Saturday, with Hapoel Haifa losing its last two games.
Also Saturday, Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Ra’anana will hope to maintain their unbeaten starts to the season.
Sakhnin hosts Ashdod, which has beaten Maccabi Haifa and drawn with Maccabi Tel Aviv at home but has lost both its road games, while Ra’anana welcomes Hapoel Acre.
On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv, which has yet to concede a goal and has looked to date miles above the rest of the league, hosts Hapoel Ramat Hasharon, which has lost all five of its matches by a combined goal difference of 2-14.
Beitar Jerusalem welcomes Hapoel Tel Aviv to Teddy Stadium on Monday night in a mouthwatering showdown between the bitter rivals. It will be the first time new Beitar owner Eli Tabib will come up against the club he previously controlled and almost 30,000 fans are expected to fill the stadium.