Soccer / Minnows guaranteed place in cup final
Big guns Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Petah Tikva were drawn against each other yesterday in the semifinals of the State Cup.
Big guns Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Petah Tikva were drawn against each other yesterday in the semifinals of the State Cup, leaving third division Hapoel Ashkelon and second division Maccabi Herzliya to fight it out for the other final ticket.
The draw means that a non-Premier League team is guaranteed a place in the State Cup final for the third straight year. The semifinals will be played in a double header at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan on May 3.
Maccabi Herzliya will be the favorite against Ashkelon, but the runaway third division leader has already gained promotion and, after stunning Premier League Bnei Yehuda 3-0 in the previous round, Ashkelon will be confident that it can pull off another upset.
"Herzliya is an excellent team. It plays a league above us and it was superb against Hapoel Petah Tikva in the quarterfinals," said Ashkelon chairman Arie Helshtok. "But on the day, anything is possible and perhaps we can surprise them."
Herzliya chairman Ariel Scheiman said that Aashkelon would be a tough opponent.
"They have [striker] Carlos Chicana, who is a player of Premier League class. It will be a difficult match," he said.