Netanya looks to pressure teams at the top with win over Hakoach

Local Soccer: Netanya is the only top-5 team in action on Saturday.

Maccabi Netanya 298.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Netanya 298.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Netanya can increase the pressure on its title rivals with a home victory over Hakoach Amidar Ramat Gan on Saturday. Netanya is the only top-5 team in action on Saturday, with top-of-the-table Maccabi Haifa visiting Bnei Yehuda on Sunday and fourth-placed Betar Jerusalem hosting second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv on Monday. Despite its promising position, Netanya has struggled for some months now, only winning three of its last 11 matches and stumbling against the Premier League's weaker teams time and again. Lothar Matthaus' side only barely claimed a 2-1 home victory over Ironi Kiryat Shmona last week and just over a month ago was held 2-2 by its opponent on Saturday, rock-bottom Ramat Gan. Hakoach has won just three times all season, but despite being in last position is still far from being relegated. The team is only three points away from 10th placed Kiryat Shmona and safety, and will be encouraged after drawing with Ashdod SC last week. Maccabi Tel Aviv, which is only seven points in front of Hakoach and just five points ahead of Bnei Sakhnin and the 11th position, which leads to a relegation playoff, visits Hapoel Petah Tikva on Saturday. Tel Aviv played perhaps its best 45 minutes of the season in the first half against Hapoel Tel Aviv on Monday, but still managed to concede on the stroke of halftime and ended up losing the match 3-1, a third defeat of the season to its arch-rival. Maccabi has lost three straight league matches and has won just three of 14 games since Avi Nimni replaced Ran Ben-Shimon as coach at the start of November. Just three weeks ago Petah Tikva defeated Tel Aviv 2-1 at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to a poor penalty call in stoppage time. Also Saturday, Maccabi Petah Tikva, which has lost its last two games and won only twice in seven attempts since coach Roni Levy took charge at the beginning of the year, hosts Sakhnin and Kiryat Shmona visits Ashdod.