PREVIEW: WEEKEND ISRAELI ACTION
Bryan Gerzicich and league-leading Hapoel Kiryat Shmona look to continue their stellar start to the season against Hapoel Ramat Gan while Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya look to rebound against the defending champions.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona – Hapoel Ramat Gan
A week after rising to first place in the Israeli Premier League, Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Kiryat Shmona will look to continue their fine run of form when they host Hapoel Ramat Gan on Monday at Kiryat-Shmona Municipal Stadium.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona made a strong statement to the rest of the league last week when they traveled to Tel Aviv and defeated the defending champions Hapoel Tel Aviv in convincing fashion.
The 4-2 victory made it clear that the Kiryat Shmona have set their sights on contending for the league title despite being promoted to the top league just this past season. The club, which is located in the northern most point in Israel and is in the smallest city in the country to have a top-level team, has taken fans of the league by surprise.
Kiryat Shmona has succeeded in large part to a high power offense that has scored 11 times in four games. They are lead by forward Wiyam Amashe whose hat-trick against Haopel Tel Aviv gave him a league leading five goals for the season.
Also performing well for Kiryat Shmona is midfielder Elroy Cohen. The Israeli U21 international has been the key creative force for the team's attack has been involved in most of the team's most dangerous scoring opportunities.
American Bryan Gerzicich has also been a steady presence for the league leaders where he played every minute for the club this season in his usual deep lying central midfield position. He is likely to start once again for the club on Monday.
Hapoel Ramat Gan enters the game on the heels of their first win of the season last week when they defeated Hapoel Acre 3-2 thanks to a pair of goals from Bulgarian forward Krum Bibishkov.
Just prior to the start of the 2010/2011 season Hapoel Ramat Gan were penalized four points due to financial irregularities. Now with a win and two draws in the first four games, they are now into positive territory with one point on the season and are in 15th place in the 16 team league.
Hapoel Ramat Gan will be without defender Tamir Ben Ami for Monday's match as he is out with a pulled thigh muscle and Bulgarian defender Elin Topuzakov is questionable with pain in his foot.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona are not reporting any injuries.
Maccabi Netanya – Hapoel Tel Aviv
Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya will look to rebound after a disappointing draw last weekend with Hapoel Petah Tikva, when they host Hapoel Tel Aviv on Saturday at Sar-Tov Stadium on Saturday.
Despite dominating most of the match, Maccabi Netanya fell behind to Hapoel Petah Tikva after Krupnik redirected a cross into his own net for an own goal. They were able to equalize late in the game when Achmad Saba'a converted from close range on a counter attack.
Maccabi Netyana still enters into the game without a loss on the season. This is in large part due to a stingy defense that has yielded only three goals through the first four games.
Krupnik is expected to once again anchor the backline where he has started every game in central defense.
The defending champions Hapoel Tel Aviv have found themselves unexpectedly struggling entering into Saturday's contest. In their last league match, they lost 4-2 at home to Hapoel Kiryat Shmona in a second half collapse.
In addition to their league play which has seen them only earn 1 point in their last two matches, their UEFA Champions League campaign has had little success where they lost to 2-0 to Benfica in their first match of group play.
This past Wednesday they fell to 3-1 to Olympique Lyon at home at Bloomfield Stadium to fall to last place in Group B of the Champions League.
Now sitting in eighth place in the Premier League with just four points in four games they will looking to get their season back on the right path.
Hapoel Tel Aviv will be missing Brazilian central defender Douglas da Silva who picked up a red card late in the game last weekend.
Maccabi Netanya will still be without central defender Mariano Caporale who has been out of action for two weeks with a hamstring injury.
After making his first appearances of the season for Hapoel Be'er Sheva in a 5-1 loss to Beitar Jerusalem, New Jersey native Ryan Adeleye will hope for more playing time when they take on Bnei Sakhnin at home on Saturday.