BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Bryan Gerzicich and Kiryat Shmona clinched the Israeli title and booked their place in the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds after a 0-0 draw against Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Gerzicich started and went the distance in his usual central midfield position for Kiryat Shmona.

With Maccabi Netanya failing to beat Bnei Yehuda over the weekend, all Kiryat Shmona needed was a draw against Hapoel Tel Aviv to secure their first ever title.

The game did not see many scoring opportunities as Kiryat Shmona elected play a very defensive game from the start. The best opportunity came in the 85th minute when Kiryat Shmona defender Shir Tzedek was almost whistled for a penalty but the ref did not point to the spot.

When the final whistled sounded the fans at Kiryat Shmona Municipal Stadium erupted with joy and fireworks were set of off into the night sky. Kiryat Shmona is the smallest team in the league and play in a dangerous location on the Lebanon border.

The team has served as a unifying force for good in a city that has seen its share of violence and that mood was reflected in the celebrations that followed the game.

The future of the club remains uncertain as head coach Ran-Ben Shimon has announced he won't return after a dispute with the club owner over a contract extension. Gerzicich has also been the focus of transfer rumors.

For now, however, the team are the champions of Israel and will take part in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League.