New season gets underway
Jerusalem and England will seek more silverware, but face stiff competition.
The Olim Football League's 2013-14 soccer season gets underway Saturday night, with Jerusalem seeking to win a trophy for the third season in a row.
Jerusalem, managed by David Preston, Raffy Wreschner and Danny Newman, previously won the 2011-12 league championship and the 2012-13 League Cup. Stars Moishe Lewis, Eli Warner and Akiva Zniemer return, while the squad has added Davied Raber, Zack Lewis, Gavriel Krieger, Yitzi Hill and Aron Luftig.
England, the defending champion, may be the team to beat. First-year manager Motti Colman has his eyes on a double this season.
"It's my first year as manager, but with Terry Newman alongside me we have plenty of experience," Colman told Haaretz this week. "We are taking over a championship winning side, so the secret is not to tinker too much with the unbelievable job that Yoni Sidi did. We have made some small and hopefully significant changes that should help propel us forward."
Colman said Aviv City was "certainly the best team we faced in preseason, but they are one of a number of teams that could challenge for the league this year. I think it will be very tight at the top."
England lost Josh Hantman but still has its star Nick Plotnek.
Aviv City, managed by Uri Schneider, has set a top two finish or cup title as its goals for the season. The team that finished third last season has talented players in Peter Emola, Remi, Alya and Daan Baker.
Jaffa, the bridesmaid of last season, has picked up Eli Bachar, Leo Bronstein, Noam Zimran and Diego Alaluf in hopes of knocking England off the top. Eyal Hoffman will captain the team, which won the Cup in 2011, while Simon Berkley carries on as manager.
Ashdod manager Yoel Ohuna may not see winning the championship as a realistic option, given the competition for the team, which finished fifth last season. Instead, he has set his sights on a strong performance in the cup competition.
Real Jerusalem, managed by Francisco Salgado together with player-manager and captain Mario Gayan, believes it is capable of winning at least one trophy this season. Its top players are Gayan, Jacky Duek, Meni Duek and Nati Hasson.
Modi'in finished eighth last season but is more ambitious this year thanks to the addition of a couple of new players without losing any veterans. Managers Jamie Lazarus and David Bruce do not rule out winning the league-and-cup double.
Ra'anana is less ambitious. With its mainstay Aviad Ben Meir, the team is looking just to win as many games as possible and have fun.
The league this season introduces a couple of new franchises. MS Bambi will use Tel Aviv University as its home pitch. With players Ori Cabir, Ido Sacagiu and Aviv Zemer along with team captain Gadi Itzhak, manager Yoni Sarig is looking for no less than a double.
The other new addition, Athletico Jerusalem, will focus this season on team development and be pleased with a mid-table finish. Jerusalem is managed by Daniel Tarlow and captained by Carlos Mazzini. Another player to watch on Athletico is Nati Fattel.