No end in sight to Maccabi Haifa troubles

Matters go from bad to worse for Greens, Benado following1-0 loss to Hapoel Ra’anana.

Hapoel Haifa players celebrate victory over Maccabi 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Haifa players celebrate victory over Maccabi 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
The crisis at Maccabi Haifa continued to deepen on Saturday, with the Greens dropping to a humbling 1-0 Premier League loss to Hapoel Ra’anana in Netanya.
Last week’s 1-0 derby defeat to Hapoel Haifa mounted the pressure on coach Arik Benado and his squad, and the players failed to respond on Saturday, being outplayed by the modest Ra’anana.
Benado replaced Reuven Atar early last season, with the latter being sacked after picking up just seven points from the first nine league matches. Following Saturday’s setback, Haifa remains in 10th place with a mere eight points from eight games, having won two encounters all season.
The Greens have picked up all three points only once in their past 11 matches in all competitions and Benado looked almost shell-shocked following another unexpected loss, this time to Ra’anana, which won thanks to Tamir Cohen’s 59th-minute goal.
“We are experiencing a bad period,” said Benado after seeing his team register just one shot on target throughout the 90 minutes. “I have no complaints to the players because they did their best. We are simply not creative enough at the moment and are not playing well enough. I feel bad for the fans. We are in a bad situation but we will continue to work hard.”
Benado rejected any suggestion that he might choose to throw in the white towel and resign.
“I feel that I have the capabilities to get the team out of this situation,” said Benado. “If I will be told that I’m not the man for this job then so be it. But I will do everything to help the team out of this state.”
The win was especially pleasing for Ra’anana’s Cohen, who joined the Sharon side after two dismal years at Haifa, playing only 14 matches for the club in 2011/12 before making a mere three appearances last season, including only one in the final eight months of the campaign.
Beitar Jerusalem made it three wins in four matches, extending its unbeaten streak to five games, with Saturday’s 2-1 triumph over Bnei Yehuda at Teddy Stadium.
A Teteh Bangura brace (49, 64) canceled out Adam Hrepka’s opener (32), with the Hungarian being sent off in the 74th minute.
Hapoel Haifa also continued its hot form on Saturday, climbing up to second place with its 2-0 win over Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Yuval Avidor’s double (53, 59) secured Haifa its third consecutive victory.
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon picked up its first point of the season on Saturday, drawing 1-1 against Bnei Sakhnin at Doha Stadium.
Asael Ben-Shabat gave Ramat Hasharon the lead (10), with Mohamed Kalibat scoring for Sakhnin (76).
Also Saturday, Pedro Galvan’s goal four minutes from time gave Maccabi Petah Tikva a 1-1 draw against nine-man Ashdod SC, which led from Roei Bekel’s strike (77).
Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Acre on Sunday, with league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv visiting Hapoel Beersheba on Monday.