Maccabi Haifa 3-1 Hapoel Tel Aviv
Maccabi Haifa is fortunate to have an amazing stadium filled with an amazingly loyal crowd. Over 17k season tickets were sold. Every seat filled for their match with Hapoel Tel Aviv and non stop singing & cheering aided the Greens to overcome a tough year for a club that has always challenged for the top spot in the past.
Haifa may be going through a rebuilding stage and has seen some serious turnover during the offseason but coach Aleksander Stanovich can finally smile a bit seeing his side win at home in front of over 30K supporters!
Stanovich has been very, very fortunate that the supporters have not turned on him and that owner Yakov Shachar who rarely releases a coach mid season has not done so. Shachar believes in his Serbian coach who has been the head man at Partizan Belgrade in the past and has definitely faced many challenges along the way in other locales.
He has said and continues to say that he can’t believe how great the supporters have been to him in essence supporting him thorugh his growing pains in Israel. In most cases he would probably shudder at the thought if he would be coaching in one of the Eastern European countries and his record which going into last night match rivaled that of the bottom club in the table.
However, he is in Israel in the employ of one of Israel’s premier franchises and also playing in a brand new facility. Stanovich could make his impact felt for years to come helping put his stamp on a club that has won 10+ titles with the help of coaches Avram Grant, Ronnie Levy & Elisha Levy. I’m sure sure Shachar would love to add him to that list.
In order to do so, Haifa will need a fit Yossi Benayoun and that’s exactly what they got last night.
Benayoun could do no wrong in his first game back in what felt like an eternity and not only helped out assisting on the first goal but also stabilized the team itself.
Stanovich spoke about how important it was that the former Israel captain was playing and fit. He explained that Benayoun started to play on the side as a winger and not behind the striker in order to not wear him out as there are 3 matches in 7 days. He came out of the match without an injury or aggravating anything that has bothered him recently.
That’s good news for coach Stanovich. To have a healthy, willing & able Yossi Benayoun is just what the doctor ordered. Perhaps he will be the key to turn around Haifa’s season and set the team straight. In essence it’s now or never for Maccabi & Stanovich as he must take advantage of the win over Hapoel Tel Aviv and build on it going forward.
Small steps are in order and as they say you can’t build Rome in a day.
Game notes- Maccabi Haifa opened the scoring on Hen Ezra’s lazer beam of a goal off a Benayoun assist off a rebound by Tel Aviv keepe Tom Almondon who had stopped a Weam Amasha chance that should have been in. Weam Amasha notched the second goal and Gili Vermut cut the lead in half with a penalty goal late in the match. Idan Vered salted away the win with Haifa’s 3rd goal. Weam Amasha missed three solid chances and should have converted those into goals. Not good for the striker who had been in the stands last year.