Post-Nimni era begins with dreadful loss

One day after firing its manager, Mac TA blown out 4-1 by Mac PT in Toto semis; Kiryat Shmona comes back, outlasts Bnei Yehuda in penalties; to face PT on Jan. 18.

Mac TA 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Mac TA 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
The post-Avi Nimni era began in embarrassing fashion on Wednesday night, with Maccabi Tel Aviv losing 4-1 to Maccabi Petah Tikva in the Toto Cup semifinals at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
Interim coach Itzik Ovadia selected a strong lineup in what may well prove to be his only match in charge of the yellow- and-blue, after announcing he would follow sacked manager Nimni and coach Yossi Mizrahi out of the club once a replacement is signed.
However, despite taking an early lead, Tel Aviv was outplayed by its opponent and fell to yet another humbling defeat against a team it was expected to beat.
The search for Nimni’s replacement continued on Wednesday and Tel Aviv will be hoping it has a new coach in place by the time it plays Betar Jerusalem on Monday night.
“It is never easy to be in this kind of situation,” Maccabi midfielder Gal Alberman said. “We should do our job on the field regardless of who is coaching us. We bare some of the responsibility for what happened and there is no reason we should be playing like this.
We all hope a new coach will arrive as soon as possible.”
Petah Tikva will face Ironi Kiryat Shmona in the final of Israel’s second cup competition on January 18, after Ran Ben-Shimon’s men defeated Bnei Yehuda 5-4 on penalties after extra time ended in a 1-1 tie.
Oz Rali gave Bnei Yehuda the lead in the 26th minute and Dror Kashtan’s men would go on to squander numerous chances that could have secured the win.
Seconds before the final whistle, substitute Shlomi Avisdris made Bnei Yehuda pay, scoring the equalizer deep into stoppage time.
Bnei Yehuda had a golden opportunity to take a crucial lead in the 113th minute, but Asi Baldut missed his penalty and the match would have to be decided on spot kicks.
After both teams scored their first four penalties, Pedro Galvan missed Bnei Yehuda’s fifth and Avisdris ensured he would be the hero of the day by completing the victory with a successful shot.
Maccabi Tel Aviv got the second semi of the night off to an ideal start, with Dimitar Rangelov scoring from the edge of the area in the sixth minute.
However, Peath Tikva would quickly seize control of the encounter and claim a one-sided win.
Tal Ben-Haim rounded goalkeeper Liran Strauber in the 31st minute to tie the score and Petah Tikva took the lead eight minutes into the second half through Sebastian Sansoni.
In the 65th minute, Dovev Gabay scored seconds after coming on as a substitute, and Tel Aviv’s misery was compounded a minute later when Djibril Sidibe was sent off before Gabay completed the scoring eight minutes from time.