Soccer Premier League Maccabi Tel Aviv Names Jordi Cruyff as Sports Director, Draws in Ashdod

Reuven Atar's Netanya beats Maccabi Haifa, Kiryat Shmona crashes at Sakhnin.

JERUSALEM - Maccabi Tel Aviv have named former Dutch international Jordi Cruyff as sports director and he will start work at the end of the season, the club said Friday.

The ex-Manchester United and Barcelona forward, who is leaving as director of football at Cypriot club AEK Larnaca, will be presented at a news conference Sunday. "Jordi will work closely with the coaching staff and will make a valuable contribution in strengthening the club," said Maccabi in a statement.

Jordi Cruyff,  left, Maccabi TA’s new sports director, with Canadian owner Mitch Goldhar,
Ilan Assayag

One of Cruyff's first tasks will be to help appoint a new coach. The team have been guided by caretaker Nir Levin since Motti Ivanir was sacked in December.

Cruyff is the son of Netherlands legend Johan, and joins Israel's richest club. Canadian owner Mitch Goldhar's $35 million investment on players ahead of the start of the season has failed to yield the desired results.

Maccabi are sixth in the table and face a fight to finish in the top four, to earn a place in next season's Europa League. They drew 1-1 at FC Ashdod on Saturday. Ashdod took the lead in the 18th minute through Rodgers Kola, before Maccabi equalized 20 minutes later thanks to Moanes Dabour.

"Maccabi are a special club with a great tradition and I am convinced that, with hard work and the right decisions, we will develop something the club and the fans will be proud of," said Cruyff, who won nine caps for his country.

Atar's beats future club

Cruyff's arrival dominated the news in an exciting weekend of action.

Hapoel Tel Aviv came back from a 1-3 deficit to equalize, and then almost grabbed victory in the dying minutes against Bnei Yehuda, as the battle for second and third place heats up.

Hapoel fell to third, following Maccabi Netanya's win against Maccabi Haifa. Netanya's coach Reuven Atar is all but officially named as Haifa's next coach, and his win crowned an extremely successful season of the former virtuoso.

Champion Kiryat Shmona were probably still slightly tipsy from the midweek celebration of their title, and they crashed 5-0 to Bnei Sakhnin.

In the battle against relegation, Rishon Letzion lost again, 2-0 to Hapoel Haifa, and are set to join Hapoel Petah Tikva - who lost 1-2 to Ramat Hasharon - in the Leumit League.

Maccabi Petah Tikva, the leading candidate to join them in the second tier league, will play Hapoel Be'er Sheva tomorrow.

Beitar Jerusalem host Hapoel Acre tonight.