Shirazi: Chance to manage Reds too good to turn down

Hapoel, currently in third place in the standings, could find itself 12 points back of Kiryat Shmona after the weekend.

Nitzan Shirazi 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Nitzan Shirazi 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Despite only receiving a contract until the end of the season, Nitzan Shirazi admitted on Thursday that the offer to coach Hapoel Tel Aviv was one he simply couldn’t turn down while adding that he hopes his stay with the Reds will last a lot longer than everyone is expecting.
The 40-year-old left Hapoel Haifa less than two months ago after the team’s dismal start to the season and acknowledged that no one could have predicted that he would be at the helm of a club of the stature of Tel Aviv so soon afterwards.
“I’m committed to give my all and to try and lead Hapoel to the success it deserves,” Shirazi said.
“No one knows if I will be here for four months or four years, but I will be judged by the results we achieve so I am hoping that my journey with Hapoel will be a very long one.
“This is a chance of a lifetime. I understand the meaning of coaching Hapoel.
Had I been told that I would be the Hapoel coach a month-and-a-half ago I would never have believed it.”
Ironically, Shirazi’s first match as Tel Aviv coach will be against Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium on Monday.
Hapoel, currently in third place in the standings, could find itself 12 points back of Kiryat Shmona by the time it plays on Monday should the northerners win for the ninth time in 10 matches when they visit Bnei Sakhnin at Doha Stadium on Saturday.
The surprise success of Kiryat Shmona and Ashdod has overshadowed Sakhnin’s impressive first half to the season, but Shlomi Dora’s team can make sure everyone takes notice of its play should it hand Ran Ben-Shimon’s side its first defeat in 19 matches.
However, to do so, Sakhnin will need to breach Danny Amos’s goal, something which hasn’t been done in over six matches.
Kiryat Shmona hasn’t conceded a goal in 622 minutes since Aleksandar Davidov gave Hapoel Acre the lead in the eighth minute of an eventual 2-1 victory for the northerners.
Ashdod will be crossing its fingers Sakhnin can crack Ben-Shimon’s defense so that it can close the six-point gap on Kiryat Shmona when it hosts Bnei Yehuda on Saturday.
Ashdod, which is unbeaten in 14 matches, welcomes back Nir Biton after his weeklong trial at Manchester City, but will face a tricky opponent in Bnei Yehuda, which has won four of six matches, including a 5-1 thrashing of Hapoel Petah Tikva last week.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Beersheba, Maccabi Haifa visits Hapoel Ramat Hasharon, Maccabi Netanya welcomes Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Rishon Lezion faces Maccabi Petah Tikva.
After snapping its eight-match winless streak with a 2-1 victory over Maccabi Netanya last week, Betar Jerusalem goes for its second straight triumph on Sunday when it visits Hapoel Petah Tikva in a crunch showdown in the battle against relegation.