Sinai says: The difficulties of being a Shirazi

Bnei Yehuda has to win, Maccabi Petah Tikva can't afford to lose, Shirazi needs both teams to win, which sadly can't happen

Allon sinai 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Allon sinai 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Saturday is going to be one of the saddest days in Nitzan Shirazi's professional career. Regardless of the outcome of the match between Shirazi's Maccabi Petah Tikva and Bnei Yehuda this weekend, the 36-year-old coach is guaranteed to experience true despair. To understand the significance of Saturday's match you must first go back 50 years. Shirazi's father Meir was a Bnei Yehuda player for eight seasons (1957-1965), leaving his son with no real choice, but to support the club. Shirazi also began his playing career at the team from southern Tel Aviv, but retired before his 21st birthday after a car accident wrecked any hope he had of a professional career in the top flight. He soon turned to coaching and spent nine-and-a-half successful years guiding youth teams at Maccabi Tel Aviv. Shirazi left Maccabi after his request to graduate to the senior side was turned down and went on to become an insurance agent. It wouldn't be long, however, before Bnei Yehuda came calling and Shirazi was appointed as the team's head coach in 2003 after Guy Levy stormed out of the club. Shirazi's greatest success at the club came in the 2005/06 season when he guided the side to the State Cup final and to a fourth place finish and UEFA Cup qualification. It all went downhill from there, however, and 11 matches into this season Shirazi quit after the team suffered its sixth straight league loss. "My father instilled in me the love of Bnei Yehuda and the pride and honor of the club. Bnei Yehuda's stadium became my second home," Shirazi once said of his beloved club. On Saturday, however, he may well be the man who sentences the Oranges to life in the second division. Bnei Yehuda is currently rock-bottom of the Premier League standings, but after winning its last four matches has closed within five points of safety. Nevertheless, it will be all but over for the team should Shirazi and Maccabi Petah Tikva win on Saturday. Petah Tikva is one of four teams which are five points ahead of Bnei Yehuda and a loss on Saturday in Shirazi's second match in charge at the club could prove significant to Maccabi's hopes of survival as well. Further complicating matters is the fact that one of the two men in charge of Bnei Yehuda's recent resurgence is Shirazi's brother Hezi. Together with Yaakov Asayag, Hezi, who scored 76 goals in 11 seasons as a player at Bnei Yehuda, has been at the helm of the side in its recent win streak since Eli Cohen was fired last month, renewing the hope that the team can maintain its Premier League status. Whatever unfolds on Saturday, Nitzan Shirazi will be on the losing side. Bnei Yehuda has to win, Maccabi Petah Tikva can't afford to lose, Shirazi needs both teams to win, which sadly can't happen. I, for one, can't help but feel sorry for him. [email protected]