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Israel assistant coach Moshe Sinai is set to ask the Israel Football Association to release him from his contract so he can coach Hapoel Tel Aviv next season, sources close to the club said yesterday.

The sources said Sinai had been approached by the club's prospective new owners, and that he had agreed to take on the job. The only question now, they said, was whether IFA chair Itche Menahem would agree to release Sinai from his contract, which he only recently extended.

The ownership of Hapoel Tel Aviv is expected to be transfered later this week to a group of businessmen who support the club. Former Ashdod SC strongman Jackie Ben Zaken appears to have dropped out of the race to take over the club. "The way things stand at the moment, I won't be at Hapoel and everyone knows why," Ben Zaken said, referring to the IFA's demand that he wait out a one-year cooling-off period before taking over a different club.

Meanwhile, Hapoel said yesterday that it was hopeful former striker Pini Balili would return to the club after two years in Turkey, and that it was also making efforts to bring back Salim Tuameh and Omri Afek.