Soccer Preview: Betar looking to remain unbeaten

Hapoel Kfar Saba comes to Teddy with Jerusalem club five points clear at the top of the league.

Betar Boateng 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Betar Boateng 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Betar Jerusalem's procession to a second straight league title is set to continue on Saturday night when the team hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba at Teddy Stadium. Jerusalem is five points clear at the top of the Premier League standings and has yet to lose this season. Kfar Saba has hit top form in recent weeks, winning its last two matches and going unbeaten in its last four games. Nevertheless, Betar is a massive favorite on Saturday and the champion's fans will be expecting another easy win at Teddy. Saturday's match was originally supposed to be played in front of empty stands as punishment for the boos and jeers sounded by Betar fans during the minute of silence in memory of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Haifa earlier this month. The Israel Football Association High Court, however, overturned the previous decision on Wednesday, accepting Betar's appeal and acquitting the club. "I wasn't surprised. The High Court made a very good decision," Jerusalem defender Arik Benado said of the ruling. "Justice has been made, but we still condemn what happened in Haifa. I hope our fans have learnt a lesson." Betar, which defeated Maccabi Netanya 1-0 last week, hasn't conceded a league goal in 435 minutes, but has struggled in attack in its recent matches, scoring just one goal in its last three games. "We haven't played that well recently, but we looked much better in the second half in Netnaya. I hope we can build on that performance," defender Shimon Gershon said on Thursday. "Kfar Saba is an excellent team with plenty of technically gifted players that create a lot of scoring opportunities. The outcome of the match, however, depends on us and if we play properly good things will happen." Maccabi Haifa will look to continue its climb up the standings with a win at Maccabi Herzliya on Saturday. Haifa, which is seeking revenge for the 4-0 loss to Herzliya last season, has won five of its last seven matches and, despite starting the season with three consecutive shutout losses, is only three points off the runners-up position. "We were embarrassed at home by Herzliya last season. They're a very stubborn opponent and we must play as well as we can to win," Haifa veteran Alon Harazi said. "After starting the season poorly we have set ourselves the goal of finishing as high as possible in the table." Also Saturday, Maccabi Netanya, which has lost its last two matches, visits Bnei Yehuda, which has been defeated in its last five league games. Another struggler, Ashdod SC, hosts second placed Maccabi Petah Tikva. On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Bnei Sakhnin, with Hapoel Tel Aviv hosting Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Monday in the final game of Matchday 11.