Over the past few days we have seen the Israeli Soccer League turned on its heads, and yes literally.
If one was looking for drama on and off the pitch one need not look further than our own domestic league!
Let’s begin with last night. Hapoel Tel Aviv has put a stamp on the league by saying, we are the number 1 team in the country with a convincing 3-0 victory over last year’s champion Maccabi Haifa at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv/Yaffo.
Dror Kashtan could have not put together a better game plan for the Reds as they dominated every facet of this contest from strikers to midfielders to defenders. Maccabi Haifa was made to look so out of sync and normal it’s as if they had no clue what to do.
The Greens top flight strikers in Vladimer Davlishvili and Weaam Amasha could not get any service from the midfielders as Hapoel Tel Aviv continuously attacked the ball and did not give captain Yaniv Katan and his teammates and inch of breathing room to make plays.
An inch however is what Elroi Cohen needed as he launched a rocket of a shot that ricocheted into the top left hand corner of the goal to put Hapoel up 1-0.
The next goal only minutes later came from Omer Damari and was an absolute work of beauty as he turned Dela Yampolski inside out and then beat the ‘keeper Shranov fair and square from the top of the box.
Hapoel left Haifa coach Elisha Levy in shock and horror as his side had no answer to the Tel Aviv’s club performance.
If this game was billed as the “Match of the Season”, what will next week’s clash between Hapoel Tel Aviv and Kiryat Shemona in the northern city be? Well yes, the “Match of the Season” it will be as Kiryat Shemona sits only 1 point behind Hapoel!
What else happened last night? Motti Ivanir was relieved of his duties as coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv as owner Mitch Goldhar’s team has been struggling mightily the past month. Whereas we all thought the loss against Beitar 1-0 in November was just a little aberration, well we were all proven wrong. Maccabi could not keep stumbling and it seemed that Ivanir lost his players.
I like Motti Ivanir. He is a consummate professional and a quality person and coach. For some reason the mix of young and old on this squad just did not work out the way it did at the beginning of the season. After a training camp in Caesearia and a nice performance at home in Europa League play against Beshiktas, the thought was there that they had finally cleared the hurdle. But apparently not.
I am sure Motti who fulfilled one of his childhood dreams in coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv will land on his feet with another team at some point in the future. When he came on board last year he had plans on integrating the youth players into the senior team, which he did with some success. On one hand, maybe it was too much, too soon, on the other, the fans want results now and you are only as good as your last game. That being said, maybe it was the right time for Motti to go.
The question for Maccabi now remains as to who will take over as coach and will that person succeed where the past number of coaches have not.
The one coach that did succeed in taking them to the Champions League is available. His name is Nir Klinger.
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