Mac TA, Mac Haifa set to clash; Sakhnin blanks Mac PT

Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Moti Ivanir insists his team will not be favorite in Monday night’s mouthwatering topshelf showdown against Maccabi Haifa.

Ivanir 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ivanir 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Despite Maccabi Tel Aviv’s outstanding start to the season, yellow-and-blue coach Moti Ivanir insisted on Sunday that his team will not be the favorite in Monday night’s mouthwatering top-shelf showdown against Maccabi Haifa.
Tel Aviv enters the match top of the standings, holding a five-point lead over the reigning-champion, which is in sixth position.
However, even though it can open an eight-point cushion over the Greens with a win at Bloomfield Stadium, Ivanir doesn’t believe Haifa’s hopes of defending its league title depend on Monday’s result.
“I really don’t think that Haifa is scared of us ahead of this match,” Ivanir said on Sunday. “We don’t see ourselves as the favorites. Haifa is the champion and played very well in the Europa League defeat at Schalke. We have already proven our worth this season so I don’t think this match is in anyway a test of our abilities.
“However, it does give us a chance to send out a message and if we can play as well as we have done this season that will certainly mean something.”
After missing the match in Schalke, Yaniv Katan is expected to return to the starting lineup at Bloomfield, with Haifa coach Elisha Levy knowing that three points on Monday will all but erase his side’s erratic start to the campaign.
“Maccabi Tel Aviv is a very strong team, but if we win we will be back in contention once more,” Levy told his players.
Also Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Netanya.
On Sunday, Bnei Sakhnin maintained its prefect home record with a 3-0 victory over Maccabi Petah Tikva at the Doha Stadium.
Kostadin Hazurov (36), Pieter Mbemba (63) and Ahmed Kasoum (90) scored for Sakhnin, which climbed to fourth place in the standings with its fourth win in four matches at home.
On TV: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Maccabi Haifa (live on Channel 1 at 8:50 p.m.)