In a season where Ran Ben Shimon wins a historic soccer championship with Kiryat Shmona in impressive fashion, it's hard to talk about other coaches in terms of having a good year. And yet, there are some in the ranks who could look back at this season with a relative sense of satisfaction.
Eli Cohen: We've seen coaches come in mid-season and take over teams which are fighting for their lives and rescue them from relegation, but Cohen has done more than that at Beitar Jerusalem. It's doubtful whether we have encountered a team that has collected so many potential points (83.3 percent ), a coach who has shown such a rare ability to connect with players who seemed completely downtrodden and made them blossom, fans who have rallied around one figure, a comeback which has been both exciting and well-deserved and a team that has survived thanks to playing such good soccer. If there's one problem with this rare success, it lies in the near future. Cohen has raised the bar of expectations very high for both himself and Beitar, which is liable to have a weaker team next season due to financial straits.
Yossi Abukasis: Some Bnei Yehuda fans made his life miserable because of his conservative style of soccer, and along the way they forgot that this season is his first as a head coach. Yet Abukasis is leading Bnei Yehuda into third place and a spot in Europe. While his performance this year makes one wonder what he could do with the team next season, he bailed out prematurely and accepted a position with the national team as assistant coach to Eli Guttman.
Nitzan Shirazi: This could be a surprising choice, but Shirazi deserves kudos for finishing second with Hapoel Tel Aviv and an appearance in the State Cup final. It's not easy accomplishing these feats with a team that is in the process of falling apart over the course of almost an entire season. Many coaches would find this impossible situation as a convenient excuse. Shirazi, in contrast, navigated a minefield and emerged from it almost intact - and with his dignity.
Gili Landau: The Hapoel Petah Tivka coach is the educator of the year, in my opinion. He unified his players, infused them with endless amounts of sportsmanship and built a promising base for the team, which was doomed to relegation, to make its way back to the Premier League. His only problem is that Izzy Sheratzky is not looking for a pedagogue for Kiryat Shmona - where Landau is expected to head next season - but rather a successful coach. It will be wonderful to see Landau checking this off his to-do list as well.
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