Soccer: Ex-goalkeeper Elimelech takes over as Hapoel PT coach

Soccer Ex-goalkeeper El

It has been a dramatic 24 hours at Petah Tikva's top two clubs. Maccabi Petah Tikva coach Roni Levy and Hapoel Petah Tikva boss Danny Niron both resigned on Saturday night after yet another disappointing result. However, on Sunday evening the clubs were already under the charge of their new coaches, with Freddy David taking over at Maccabi and Shavit Elimelech being promoted from assistant to head coach at Hapoel. The two new bosses will meet on Saturday in what is expected to be an especially heated Petah Tikva derby. Much was expected from Levy when he arrived at Maccabi last December after leaving Maccabi Haifa. But his team disappointed in the second half of last season and has won only two of its first 10 matches this campaign. The 2-1 home defeat to Bnei Sakhnin on Saturday was the straw that broke the camel's back and Maccabi wasted no time hiring David on Sunday morning. "I went with my gut instinct and I'm sure I made the right decision for me and for Maccabi Petah Tikva," said David, who began his career as a youth coach at Hapoel Petah Tikva before becoming the club's head coach in 2003. "Our goal is to finish in the top six and we have a good enough squad to do so." Niron managed just two wins in 10 matches as Hapoel coach and was left with no real option but to resign after Saturday's 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Hapoel Tel Aviv. The 38-year-old Elimelech, a former Israel national team goalkeeper, became Niron's assistant after retiring in the summer and will be facing Maccabi in the derby in his first match ever as a head coach. "The team is in a tough situation but we need to fight for our pride," Elimelech said. "It is very sad what happened to Niron. I have a contract at Hapoel and I will fill any position the management asks me to." Meanwhile, Hapoel Ra'anana climbed off the bottom of the Premier League standings on Sunday night, defeating Hapoel Haifa 2-1 thanks to a Cristiano Dos Santos stoppage time winner. Steven Cohen gave the hosts the lead in the eighth minute, but five minutes before the break Savity Lipenia tied the score for Haifa. However, Dos Santos's heroics made sure Ra'anana claimed its second win of the season and means that even ninth placed Maccabi Petah Tikva is just one point ahead of rock-bottom Ahi Nazareth.