Sinai Says: The night that could define their careers
Wednesday's State Cup semifinals will impact on the fate and legacy of each of the four coaches.
By ALLON SINAI
Wednesday's State Cup semifinals will not only decide the identity of the two finalists, but will also have a significant impact on the fate and legacy of each of the four coaches.
You would have thought that Maccabi Haifa coach Elisha Levy would have been guaranteed a contract extension long ago after leading the Premier League standings with his mediocre team for most of the season.
However, Levy is still waiting to hear whether he will be staying in Haifa next season, making the semifinal match against Maccabi Netanya nothing short of crucial to his future at the club.
The 51-year-old Levy, whose Haifa team leads the league standings by two points with three matches to play, had to wait his entire career to get a chance at a top club and will be bitterly disappointed if he doesn't make the most of this opportunity.
Levy knows that if he ends the season with a title he will surely remain at Haifa, meaning a victory on Wednesday will take him within one win of proving all his doubters wrong and earning a contract extension from Haifa owner Jacob Shahar.
His Netanya counterpart already knows he won't be at the club next season, but success in the State Cup can completely change the way his tenure will be remembered.
Lothar Matthaus's Netanya has disappointed in the league this season and if he doesn't guide his team to the cup, his time in Israel will be remembered mainly for his big mouth.
However, if he leads Netanya to a first title in 26 years, he will never be forgotten by the club's fans and will go down in Israeli soccer history as the man who brought the glory back to one of the country's most decorated clubs.
Betar Jerusalem coach Reuven Atar has no clue where he'll be next season, regardless of what he achieves in the final month of the season.
Betar's precarious financial situation means anyone related with the club is in the dark regarding the coming year, but Atar's future will still be on the line on Wednesday.
Everyone is expecting Betar to defeat Hakoach Amidar Ramat Gan in the semifinals and if Atar wants to cement his place among Israel's top coaches he can't afford to lose on Wednesday.
Jerusalem has lost any real chance of defending its league title, but Atar can still lead the team to a second straight cup triumph and win his first title as a coach.
Atar guided Netanya to second position in the previous two seasons, but has yet to claim any silverware as a coach and he knows such achievements are vital if he wants to continue and lead Israel's big clubs.
Hakoach coach Dudu Dahan is surely not expecting to guide a top team any time soon, as he's only in his first season as a Premier League coach.
But Wednesday's cup semis give Dahan an ideal opportunity to silence all his critics.
As well as coaching Hakoach, Dahan also works as a scout for several European clubs, something which has angered almost the entire Israeli soccer establishment.
Dahan is even set to stand trial at the Israel Football Association disciplinary court for acting as an unauthorized agent, but his unusual and perhaps unethical behavior, will be quickly forgotten if he can stun Betar on Wednesday.
Levy, Matthaus, Atar and Dahan - only two of these coaches will be victorious on Wednesday in one of the biggest matches of their coaching careers.
As for the losers, they will be left with nothing more than the empty feeling of wondering what might have been.
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