Maccabi Haifa eases into Toto Cup Final

Aug 19, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Haifa eased into the Toto Cup final with a 2-0 win over Maccabi Petach Tikva as a pair of second half goals helped the Greens into the championship match juts days after moving into the Champions League playoff round.

Haifa head coach Messay Dego played many youngsters in this game to keep his regulars fresh for this week’s tilt against Young Boys but after a goalless first half, veteran Lior Refaelov, who returned to Israel this season, helped orchestrate both markers to take victory. First Refaelov lofted a ball into the box that Anan Khalaili put home in the 73rd minute while 8 minutes later he sent the ball to an open Khalaili who laid it off to Dean David who in turn put it into the back of the goal.

“I’m happy that we were able to see a number of young players in this game,” Dego said following the game. “They really brought a a lot of energy and fight into the second half after a poor opening 45 minutes. Just like I received a chance to coach this team, they took advantage of the time they got and I’m happy they were able to repay that trust.”

“Maccabi Haifa is a strong team,” Petach Tikva coach Benny Lam said. “Regardless, I am very content with the team and my left back and 2-3 chances in front of an empty goal.”

Hapoel Tel Aviv downed Hapoel Hadera 1-1 (5-3 in penalties) to win the first game of the Toto Cup while also taking 11th place. Mavis Tchibota broke the ice as he took a Jose Rodriguez through ball to put the Reds on the board first in the 66th minute but Sami Bourard’s spot kick in the 90th minute sent the game into penalties as Omri Altman scored the winner for Michael Valkanis’s side.

“We played well in the opening 20 minuets and we created plenty of chances that could have allowed us to head into the break up 5-0,” Valkanis said. “I’m satisfied with the players as some of them are now getting back into shape. All in all I’m happy as to everyone’s contribution.”

“We didn’t begin this game well and we wanted to get back into it but it just wasn’t enough,” Hadera coach Niso Avitan said. “We have some problems and we are aware of them. There were some good minutes and some not so good. We knew how to comeback into the game and we showed character but we are still not ready to start the season as we are missing a pair of attacking players which are critical.”

Hapoel blanked Beitar 1-0 in a Toto Cup Jerusalem Derby as Matan Hozez’s 95th minute penalty gave the Capital City Reds the win and take 5th place.

“I have no complaints about the players,” Beitar assistant coach Gal Cohen said. “About the penalty, you could see from 70 meters away that there was nothing there. It was a strange decision but we will continue on. The players who were out there gave extra effort and they battled.”

“It’s always great to score a winner,” Matan Hozez said following the game. “I’m happy that we won and this was super exciting to score in the Jerusalem Derby. Now we are looking ahead to the league that begins next week. I hope that we will have a good season and we want to go as high as we can.”

Hapoel Haifa got by Ashdod 0-0 (3-2 on penalties) as Oren Bitton scored the decisive spit kick to hand the Carmel Reds 9th place.

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