Soccer / Olim League

Ra’anana Faces Second-place Jerusalem in Match of the Day

Olim soccer team co-manager Avi Wiesenberg predicts a tight game, in every sense, on Jerusalem’s ‘small pitch.’

A full fixture list in the SportsDirect.com Olim League sees league-leading Ra’anana travel to second-place Jerusalem on Saturday in the match of the day.

Elsewhere, Ashdod hosts Inter Tel Aviv, Modi’in goes to Tel Aviv University to play England, and Real Athletico Jerusalem visits Rainball Tel Aviv.

It has been an amazing season so far for runaway leader Ra’anana, which with 12 points is six points clear of the pack. The team is solid at the back and scoring goals for fun at the other end, boasting Aviad Ben Meir with a league-leading 10 goals.

After finishing bottom last season, the management team of Avi Wiesenberg and Moshe Cohen have turned things around, blending youth and experience, as well as adding a couple of new signings, prizing Natan Wiesenberg back from Jerusalem after a successful couple of years in the capital. Its biggest coup came with the signing of former Hendon United and MSFL player of the year Josh Lipman, following his aliyah earlier this year.

Jerusalem, meanwhile, has climbed up to second after losing its opening fixture against England FC.

“Jerusalem has a pitch that doesn’t suit our free-flowing football, and like to suffocate any actual football from being played, so it’s often hard to break them down on such a small pitch,” commented Ra’anana’s Wiesenberg.

In response, Jerusalem’s joint manager Danny Newman said, “Rather than the pitch suffocating free-flowing football, the facts and statistics seem to indicate otherwise, as it is the same pitch that we scored seven goals on, in a free-flowing 7-2 demolition of Real Athletico a few weeks ago; the same pitch where the league’s highest draw, 5-5, took place last season, and the very same pitch that Ra’anana themselves came to last year, when they mauled Real Jerusalem 7-0.”

Ashdod vs. Inter Tel Aviv

Seventh-place Inter goes into this game in form, on the back of two consecutive hard-fought wins – the last against high-flying Jaffa. Fifth-place Ashdod stopped the rot with a hard-fought win over Modi’in last time out, to move back into mid-table. Boasting an impressive crop of French olim, Ashdod’s strength has always been going forward. Shmouel Darmon has scored in every game so far, already doubling his overall total in the whole of last season to six.

Inter had a rough introduction to olim football, being mauled 10-2 by Ra’anana. Since then, it has tightened things up at the back, making two impressive signings from England FC in Sam Sank and Omri Elani.

England vs Modi’in

Few would have predicted that both sides would go into this game sitting in the bottom half of the table.

Eight-place Modi’in has failed to progress from an impressive 2013-14 season, which saw it in the top two for much of the season before falling away to finish comfortably mid-table. The team is still waiting for its first points of the season. Former champion England FC goes into this fixture in sixth place, on the back of two straight defeats, the latter a somewhat surprising 3-0 setback at Real Athletico Jerusalem. 

Modi’in’s main problems are up front. For England, the main problem seems to be a lack of discipline at the back.

Modi’in’s manager, Jamie Lazarus, has read the riot act to some of his underperforming players, with overtime being put in on the training pitch. “Modi’in is totally focused for this week’s game,” he said. “Our games last year against England FC were heated affairs, and I am sure this encounter will be no different. England FC is a top team, but I am sure we can register our first victory of the season against them.”

Rainball Tel Aviv vs. Real Athletico Jerusalem

Things don’t get any easier for new boy Rainball Tel Aviv. Still looking for its first points in the league and mired in ninth place, it entertains Real Athletico Jerusalem, which has crept up into fourth after stunning England FC 3-0 last week.

Rainball’s problem seems to be stamina, as it would be off the bottom if games only lasted 45 minutes. Rainball’s main challenge this week will be stopping an improving Real Athletico, which scores goals from all around the park.

Judging from results from the past few weeks, however, it looks like another long evening is in store for Rainball’s number one, Ron Cohen. He hasn’t done too much wrong, but the firepower of Real Athletico will most likely prove too much.