As the Israel soccer preseason winds down in preparation for league play to get underway at the end of the month, the Toto Cup’s semifinals and placement games have been set. Maccabi Haifa will face Hapoel Tel Aviv in the first semifinal while Hapoel Beer Sheva will play Hapoel Haifa in the second. The winners will play in the finals which are scheduled for September.
The placement games slated to take place include Kiryat Shemona hosting Maccabi Petah Tikva, Ashdod welcoming Bnei Sakhnin, Maccabi Netanya visiting Hapoel Hadera, Maccabi Tel Aviv playing Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Nof HaGalil kicking off against Beitar Jerusalem.
Kiryat Shemona made a stunning 3-goal comeback to down Bnei Sakhnin 3-2 in Toto Cup play. After going down by a pair of goals, the northern squad scored a trio of markers beginning in the 89th minute to shock the hosts and take the points.
Sharon Mimer’s team grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute when Israeli international Beram Kayal sent Marwan Kabha a nice ball in the box which he promptly put behind a helpless Dziugas Bartkus. Sakhnin doubled their advantage just ahead of the break as Kayal once again played conductor with a brilliant through ball to Raz Stain who scored to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.
When it looked as if the Galilee squad had wrapped up the victory, Ayid Habshi drew a penalty and promptly scored from the spot to cut the lead to 2-1 in the 89th minute. Roie Kehat then sent Ron Peretz a nice pass which he placed by Muhamed Kandil to draw even and in the 93rd minute Muhamed Shaker set up Shalev Dasta who scored from close in to complete the miracle comeback and snatch the points.
Hapoel Hadera knocked off Hapoel Nof HaGalil 3-2 in an entertaining game at the Netanya Stadium. Muhamed Ghadir gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute but Stav Nachmani found the equalizer via the penalty spot soon thereafter to level the score. Hadera regained the advantage in the 60th minute as Gustavo Marmentini finished off a team counterattack but once again Nachmani scored to tie up the game at 2-2. However, Omer Fadida pounded in a poor clearance by Nof HaGalil keeper Stefan Marinovic to hand Hadera the 3-points.
Maccabi Netanya slipped by Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 at Teddy Stadium to capture the 3-points and leave the capital city side winless thus far in the preseason. The diamond city squad opened the scoring before the game was even ten minutes old as Gaby Kanichowsky who has been rumored to be heading abroad, found a wide open Igor Zlatanovic who beat Beitar keeper Itamar Nitzan for a 1-0 lead.
Zlatanovic doubled the advantage just before the halftime break when he finished off a passing play once again orchestrated by Kanichowsky along with Aviv Avraham to go up 2-0. Beitar finally scored their first goal of the preseason as Oren Bitton nodded home a short corner kick to cut the lead to 2-1 but that was as close as Erwin Koeman’s club would get as Netanya wrapped up the win.
Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Jerusalem 2-1 at Bloomfield Stadium to punch their ticket to the Toto Cup semifinals. Idan Vered sent a pinpoint perfect pass to Shai Elias who beat keeper Yehonatan Shabi to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. But William Agada drew Jerusalem level in the 60th minute when he took advantage of poor defending by Hapoel Tel Aviv. However, ten minutes later striker Shlomi Azulay sent the ball into the Jerusalem goal to take the win.