Beitar Jerusalem visited Maccabi Tel Aviv last night at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan which has acted as their “home” grounds since Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem has been going through renovations.
Maccabi was playing away from their home stadium of Bloomfield because of the change over of the pitch for winter use, so both teams in essence were playing away games on this fantastic cool evening in Ramat Gan.
But the meaning of home game on this night was left up to the crowd of almost 15,000 rabid fans. Or should I rephrase that by saying, 2,000 rabid Beitar fans sitting in sections 13-16, some of the worst areas of this old dilapidated stadium that so desperately needs an upgrade, and 13,000 Maccabi Tel Aviv supporters who for the most part, booed their young team and sat on their hands.
Credit is due to the greatest traveling fans in the country, Beitar’s who did not let up for one minute and willed their side to holding on to a slim 1-0 lead from an Amit Ben Shushan goal.
What I saw as so apparent from section 1 in the upper level was the 12th man taking the level of their team up a notch and making the stadium rock to a home side for Jerusalem.
When Beitar fans face a challenge and they are up to it, they can be the best, unfortunately on occasion we have seen them when they have been at their worst as well, but not on this night that is for sure!
On the pitch credit must go to the players from Andrei Pilavsky a tall lanky central defender on loan from Maccabi Haifa and Miguel Portigo who combined to continuously clear out the balls off of corner and free kicks into the Beitar box.
Eli Dasa showed nice speed down the flank and Kobi Moyal was a rock in the midfield going after every ball as it was the last.
Moyal, a tough and gritty player sent many long balls up to Aviram Bruchian and a healthy Amit Ben Shushan just back from injury that kept the Tel Aviv side on edge.
But the star of the show, especially in the dying minutes of the match was Ohad Saidof, the 2nd choice ‘keeper playing instead of the injured Ariel Harush.
Saidof made miraculous saves using all parts of his body to keep the ball out of the goal time and time again as the clock wound down.
And Beitar fans are cognizant of this fact. They recognized the supreme effort that their team made and willed them to victory, for the first time since September.
Coach Yuval Naim had asked his players to play at the same intensity as they had a few weeks earlier at Bloomfield stadium against Hapoel Tel Aviv, and his charges were up to the challenge.
Beitar now has a weekend off to prepare for their homecoming back to Teddy Stadium in Jereusalem where they will face a struggling Maccabi Haifa who drew 1-1 at home to Bnei Yehuda this past weekend.
Beitar must come with the same intensity they showed against Maccabi Tel Aviv in order to defeat a quality side like Haifa, but they are ripe for the taking.
The key to this game will be the returning fans to Teddy. If we see a full stadium of 20,000+ fans who show the same colour as they did at Ramat Gan, we should be in for one heck of a match.
I hope to see you at Teddy on Monday November 21st at 8:50pm! Be there and support the yellow and black! This will be the key to the team’s success.
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