PREVIEW: WEEKEND ISRAELI ACTION
Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Kiryat Shmona look to build on their impressive start when they host Hapoel Petah Tikva while Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya FC take on visitors FC Ashdod.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC - Hapoel Petah Tikva
With an impressive four points from their first two matches of the Israeli Premier League season, Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Kiryat Shmona will look to keep the early season success going when they host Hapoel Petah Tikva on Saturday.
In their last match before the international break on August 28 against FC Ashdod, Kirayt Shmona needed a two goal effort from Wiyam Amashe including an 81st minute equalizer to level the score at 2-2 which is how it ended.
That heated game has caused controversy for the northern Israeli club as club president Izzy Sheratzky has been investigated for making verbal threats towards the referee in that game who awarded two penalties to Ashdod which resulted in both their goals.
American Bryan Gerzicich is once again likely to start in central midfield where he has played every minute for the club through the first two games of the young season.
In addition to Gerzicich and Amashe, Kirayt Shmona will be lead by forward Zoran Baldovaliev who has scored once this season and has consistently looked dangerous on the attack.
The club acquired the Macedonian striker from Lokomotiv Sofia in the middle of last season to help with their promotion effort.
The move proved to be crucial as Baldovaliev scored seven times to clinch Kirayt Shmona's return to the Premier League.
Widely expected to be in a relegation battle this season, Hapoel Petah Tikva enters the game looking to build off their recent 2-2 draw against Hapoel Acre in their first home game of the year.
It was the club's first point of the season after dropping their opener on the road to Hapoel Ashkelon.
Hapoel Petah Tikva will hope for more production from 22 year old forward Dudu Biton who the club acquired in the summer from Hapoel Ra'anana of the second division.
After playing with Israel's U21 team during the international break, Biton has made a strong start in his first campaign in the Premier League with two goals in the first two games.
Hapoel Petah Tikva will be without their Nigerian goalkeeper Austin Ejide due to a hand injury.
Maccabi Netanya FC – FC Ashdod
Maccabi Netanya will hope to continue their undefeated start to the season when they host FC Ashdod at Sar-Tov Stadium on Saturday.
American central defender Leo Krupnik will once again likely start for Maccabi Netanya where he has played all 180 minutes of the club's season.
Krupnik is all but certain to be joined in the backline by Mariano Caporale who the club recently acquired from Defensa y Justicia of Argentine second division.
Maccabi Netanya's offense has been effective through the first two games of the season with the club having already scored five times.
Two goals have been scored by Dela Yampolsky who scored in both the 4-1 victory over Beitar Jerusalem in the opening game and the 1-1 draw against Bnei Sakhnin in the last game before the international break.
FC Ashdod are also entering the game with an identical record of a win and a draw through their first two games.
In their last game against Hapoel Kiryat Shmona, Ashdod needed a pair of penalty goals from Wiyam Amashe to earn a 2-2 draw at home. The club opened the season with a 2-1 victory on the road over Hapoel Acre.
Ashdod made a few deals at the close of the transfer window as they acquired Ghanaian striker Sadat Bukari on loan from Maccabi Haifa.
With the Israeli Premier League limiting teams to five foreign spots, the club parted ways with Uruguayan defender Cristian González Aidinovich who is now with Beitar Jerusalem.
American defender Ryan Adeleye will hope to make the bench and possibly see his first minutes of the season for Hapoel Be'er Sheva FC when they host perennial power Maccabi Haifa.
For Maccabi Haifa, midfielder Alexander Zahavi will be out to make the bench for the first time this season after joining the club in July.