Sputtering Betar looks to right ship in State Cup

Yellow-and-black, teetering on brink of relegation, hope game vs Bnei Lod will serve as distraction.

betar jerusalem 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
betar jerusalem 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem will put aside its battle against Premier League relegation on Tuesday evening, hoping its visit to National League side Bnei Lod in the last 32 of the State Cup will prove to be a pleasant distraction from its current struggles.
Betar is just two points above the relegation zone after suffering its second straight loss on Saturday, being humbled 3-0 at home by Bnei Sakhnin.
Fans at Teddy Stadium called for the head of coach Yuval Naim, but he remains at the helm, although that could change if Betar fails to overcome an inferior opponent on Tuesday.
Influential midfielder Kobi Moyal will miss the game due to injury and captain Amit Ben-Shushan will be rested, with new-signing Eran Levy to make his first start for the team.
“Now it is time to work hard, not to talk,” Naim told his players on Monday.
“Any one who thinks that we are facing a walk in the park is very wrong. We may have lost two straight games, but we need to put that aside because we are facing a cup match which can help us get back on course.”
Unlike Betar, Lod enters the match on a hot run, going unbeaten in its last 10 National League matches, winning its last four to move tied on 42 points with league-leader Hapoel Ramat Gan.
Another high-flying National League team looking to spring a surprise on Tuesday is Hapoel Jerusalem, which hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium.
Jerusalem is in fourth place in the standings, but lost 2-0 to Maccabi Ahi Nazareth on Friday.
With its league campaign seemingly going from bad to worse with every week, Maccabi knows its only way to save some pride from a bitterly disappointing season is with a cup triumph.
Eight more last 16 ties take place on Tuesday, including two all-Premier League showdowns, with in-form Sakhnin visiting Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Beersheba hosting Bnei Yehuda.
Also Tuesday, Asi Gilboa, which leads Liga Alef Tzafon by a massive 14 points, welcomes Upper Nazareth of the National League, Maccabi Netanya visits Ness Tziona, Betar Tel Aviv/Ramle hosts Hapoel Kfar Saba, Maccabi Herzliya visits Givat Olga, Maccabi Umm el- Fahem faces Hapoel Afula and Hapoel Ramat Gan plays Kfar Kassem SC.
Six more matches will be played on Wednesday, with Premier League leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona visiting Hapoel Haifa.
In other action: Maccabi Haifa travels south to face Maccabi Beersheba, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Yavne, Hapoel Petah Tikva plays Ashdod SC, Hapoel Ramat Hashaoron comes up against Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Rishon Lezion hosts Betar Kfar Saba.
Tuesday on TV: State Cup: Asi Gilboa vs Upper Nazareth (live on Sport5+Live at 1 p.m.); Bnei Lod vs Betar Jerusalem (live on Sport5+Live at 6:45 p.m.) Hapoel Jerusalem vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (live on Sport5+Live at 8:45.