Hapoel Tel Aviv and Ramat Hasharon practically played their entire soccer match in the pouring rain yesterday, but the hosts were just three minutes short of heading out to sea.
The very late 88th minute goal by Omer Damari from a nice assist from Tal Ben Haim saved the Reds' season by giving them a 1-0 victory. The goal also happened to be Hapoel's first real scoring opportunity of the night.
A drenched and despondent crowd had watched Hapoel steadily creep through a catastrophic run of five matches without victory, three of them at home and none of them against the top teams in the Premier League table.
Yet the last-minute heroics came, giving the team a dose of oxygen as it climbed within a point of Maccabi Tel Aviv - which has a game in hand - and gave the team the chance to keep fantasizing.
It's just that fantasy is the last thing Hapoel needs right now. A dose of hard-nosed realism would do it a lot more good.
Last week, Hapoel head coach Yossi Abukasis said in an interview he was confident he could lead his team to a championship. He kept mentioning the January transfer window.
On the one hand, he spoke of taking everything upon his shoulders; on the other, he kept noting that the selection of the current roster was not his.
Last night's game suggested a different reality. Even before the transfer window, Hapoel has one of the best and deepest teams - on paper, that is. The team not only enjoys one of the most talented and dangerous front threes in the league, but also the country's best goalkeeper. He also has a talented and fit defender in Walid Badir.
Abukasis should stop looking at his neighbor's green grass and consider the club's empty coffers. The team does not need more players so much as a determined strategy and leadership.
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