Elisha Levy has coached hundreds of players in his career. Tomorrow, however, won't be just another match for the first-year Hapoel Be'er Sheva coach. "From my perspective," he told Haaretz yesterday, "I am meeting my family."
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In Be'er Sheva's third league game tomorrow Levy will face Maccabi Haifa, the team he led for four seasons, collecting two league championships along the way. "I had a wonderful period there," says Levy. "I am emotional. It's not a regular game. No doubt that despite all my love for Maccabi Haifa, the goal for Be'er Sheva and me is to win. We are still winless, and we want to beat Maccabi Haifa - not because of who it is but because we want our first victory."
While Be'er Sheva has had two draws Maccabi Haifa lost both of its first two matches. Levy says it would be painful to inflict a third loss on his former team. "I not only love Maccabi Haifa I also have close, friendly ties with many people there, including Yankele Shahar," says Levy, referring to the club's owner. "I know how much he loves to win. It will be hard for me to shake his hand at the end. But for all the pain, I'll do what I can to win."
Coaching Be'er Sheva requires an adjustment of expectations for Levy. "I believe we'll have a good season but it isn't realistic to talk about a championship," he says, adding, "The goal is to compete near the top and earn a ticket to Europe. I came here to build a team for the long term. We are bringing together young players with veterans." Levy says his goals are to play an attractive game, raise the level of talent and give the fans a good time. No one is standing over him with a stopwatch, he adds.
Levy notes that it is not easy coaching Maccabi Haifa, which wants to compete for all the silverware. He says not every coach can handle the goals and the pressure. While the press does what it wants, fans have high expectations, creating enormous pressure, he says.
"Coaching Maccabi Haifa is just like coaching the Israel national team," asserts Levy. "When I came there after coaching smaller teams they said I wouldn't make it past the High Holy Days." Levy says his two championships give him a place in Maccabi Haifa's history alongside other illustrious coaches such as Shlomo Sherf, Giora Spiegel, Avram Grant and Ronny Levy.
Regarding the national team Levy says he was a deserving candidate for the head coaching post and that his accomplishments do not fall short of those of Eli Guttman, who got the job. "There was a big push to appoint him and I wished him success," says Levy. "It looks like the road to the national squad of Israel goes through Be'er Sheva. I hope to have a good run here and believe I'll make the national team. I have the ability, but meanwhile I want to work in Be'er Sheva. I have a lot of work to do for a long time."
Ashdod off to best start ever
F.C. Ashdod beat Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 last night to start a Premier League season with three straight victories for the first time in club history.
Ashdod hesitated about keeping David Revivo last summer, but the midfielder delivered yesterday as he has done already in this young season. The 34-year-old realized in the 18th minute that Beitar goalkeeper Ariel Harush was not ready for his free kick from 30 meters, which he delivered with deadly accuracy for Ashdod's first goal. Two minutes later he sent a deep pass to striker Dimitar Makriev, who cashed in for his third goal of the season.
With coach Eli Cohen suspended from the sidelines Beitar put on a weak showing again and now has only one point in three matches.
Eran Levy, who started the game on Beitar's bench, narrowed the gap to 2-1 with a penalty kick in the 75th minute..