Miserable week gets worse for Hap TA

Reds fall to 3-0 defeat, remain 12 points behind leader Kiryat Shmona.

Toto Tamuz 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Toto Tamuz 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv’s hopes of winning the Premier League title look to be dead and buried after Monday night’s 3-0 defeat to Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium left it a massive 12 points behind leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Hapoel deteriorated into a state of complete chaos over the past week, starting with the shock sacking of coach Dror Kashtan last Monday and ultimately resulting in the resignation of the chairman, CEO and press officer on Sunday in protest of owner Eli Tabib’s running of the club.
Any notion that Tel Aviv’s players would be able to block out the happenings off-field and remain in the hunt for the championship with a win over the struggling Haifa was dispelled by the halftime break at Kiryat Eliezer.
Eran Levy’s cross caught the Tel Aviv defense napping in the 19th minute, allowing Ran Abukarat to tuck in the opener, and the visitors entered the interval down 2-0 and down to 10 men after Levy smashed in a penalty kick two minutes from the break following Walid Badier’s sending off for tumbling over Abukarat in the box.
Despite playing with one man less, Tel Aviv dominated the second half and reached several superb opportunities to get back in the match.
However, Haifa poured salt on the wounds of its former coach Nitzan Shirazi in his debut with the Reds, with Stefan Denkovic netting the third nine minutes from time.
“To talk about winning the championship now would be ridiculous,” Shirazi said. “We began the match poorly and by the time we began to play we were down to 10 men and trailing by two goals. Our only aim at the moment is to settle the team.
Hapoel is one of the biggest clubs in Israeli soccer and it will overcome this tough period.”
Striker Toto Tamuz was far more blunt in his comments after Hapoel failed to win for the sixth time in seven matches.
“We are going through a rough time, but we must be strong,” he said.
“We need quiet so we can focus on soccer. The margin from Kiryat Shmona is big and we need to first and foremost focus on getting back to winning ways.
“This is as low as it gets. Everyone at the club must pull themselves together, from the owner down to the players.
“We can’t allow an illustrious club like this to fall into oblivion. I hope the owner makes the correct decisions because the club is being hurt.”
In what is a testament to the disarray at Tel Aviv, Shirazi didn’t have new signing Marko Suler at his disposal after the club failed to register him in time fo Monday’s match.
Nevertheless, the visitors got the match off to a good enough start, with Elroei Cohen squandering a golden opportunity after just three minutes.
However, it quickly became apparent that Tel Aviv’s players were struggling to find their rhythm after everything that had occurred off the pitch in the past week.
In the 19th minute, Levy squared the ball delightfully for Abukarat and he made no mistake in front of goal.
Goalkeeper Tvrtko Kale acrobatically saved Mor Shushan’s header in the 28th minute to maintain Haifa’s lead and two minutes from the break Levy scored from the penalty spot after Badier pushed over Abukarat, who was put through by an accurate Levy pass.
Tel Aviv had plenty of chances to get back into the game after the break, but a combination of wastefulness and ill luck saw it fail find the back of the net and Dankovic piled the misery on the sorry Reds with a third goal.