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[FM18] Hapoel Ramat-Gan - Working Class Heroes

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Background

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Hapoel Ramat-Gan is an Israeli football club founded in 1927, and through their entire history, the club won only 3 major trophies. One Israeli League title in 1964 and two Israeli State Cups, 2003 and 2013.

A small club it seems, but quite unique in Israeli standards: The first (out of only two) to win the league straight after promotion, the only team to win the cup while playing in the second tier (2003) and the only team to win the cup and face relegation in the same season (2013).

The club played in two European ties (5-0 aggregate loss to Levski Sofia in 2003-04, followed by a relegation to the third (!) tier and 1-0 aggregate loss to Estoril in 2013-14), both as a second tier team.

Until 2009, Hapoel Ramat-Gan played in HaMakhtesh Stadium ("The Crater", in translation to English)

Image result for ‫אצטדיון המכתש‬‎

The stadium was demolished and for the foreseeable future the club is playing in Ramat-Gan Stadium (Which used to be the Israeli national stadium)

Image result for Ramat Gan Stadium

Ramat-Gan Stadium has a capacity of 41,500 and Hapoel Ramat-Gan's average attendance is 700. I'm sure you can Imagine the incredible matchday atmosphere :)

 

The Manager

Shahar Caduri, 42, played for almost his entire career for the club which, back then, yo-yoed between Israel's second and third tier. In 2003 he led a group of completely anonymous players to the one-time glory which is winning the Israeli State Cup. Just a few days after surviving in the second tier, Caduri lifted the Israeli State Cup.

Image result for ‫שחר כדורי‬‎

A couple of seasons later Caduri retired and it looked like he was going to stay away from football, until:

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The Squad

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Goalkeepers

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Pshehazkey was born an raised as an Hapoel Ramat-Gan supporter and came through the club youth academy. A first choice goalie since 2014, unlikely to lose his spot. Bumstein is on loan from Maccabi Haifa and shouldn't expect much playing time.

Defenders

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As you can see, the major issue here is Shmulik Malul being the only left back. The best centre back is undoubtedly Ofri Arad who is another loanee from Maccabi Haifa, and his partner will probably be Tamir Adi. Stav Israeli and Ovadia Dervish are two academy products, the latter should get significant playing time this season.

Midfielders

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As you can see not a lot of wingers and plenty of central midfielders, so I think I’ll deploy a diamond or a 4-3-1-2 system. Mekonen is a youth product with plenty of potential and the holding mid spot is pretty much his, the other regulars should be Berkovic, Velblum (yet another Maccabi Haifa loanee!) and Haziza. Other youth products are Yarin Avraham and Yariv Calamaro but I don’t see any long term future for them.

Forwards

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Pretty much straight forward. Rick ten Voorde is arguably the best player in the squad and should lead the line with Oz Peretz. Nir Sharon has a bright future ahead of him while Shimol shouldn’t expect a lot of action.

***

In Overall, this team is pretty balanced and after a few reinforcements (left back, number 10 and maybe a right back) should achieve promotion quite easily.

Coming Next - Preseason


 

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Best of luck! Looking good. I remember you from Israeli communities. Definitely going to follow.

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2017/18 Preseason

Knowing what type of players I need, I went into the market. Liga Leumit (Israeli 2nd tier) teams can have up to 3 foreigners, so I knew I have to rely on Israeli players. Having a small budget to maneuver with, I looked only for free transfers. The first player to join us is Alaa Jafar. A Maccabi Haifa academy product who played first team Liga Leumit football for Bnei Lod last season. He's naturally a right back but can easily fit in as left back. 

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To make my search for players easier, I purchased a worldwide youth package, which I intended to use for one purpose only: Amateur players in the United States. Quickly enough, I found 2 terrific talents.

Bryan Bernal is a centre back from Peachtree, GA. I'm not sure for how long we'll be able to keep him.

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Mike Contreras is a Central Midfielder from Long Island, NY. My plan is to retrain him as a number 10 and, well, put him in charge of set pieces :p 

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After making the signings I wanted (If I could I'd replace some more players but the budget is very limited), I came up with our 3 basic formations which are going to be used during the season

Default                                                                                                           Defensive                                                                                                    Attacking

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The only outgoing player is young midfielder Yarin Avraham who went on loan to Hapoel Nazareth Ilit.

A pretty quiet window, 3 in and 1 out (Erez Isakov and Yariv Calamaro are on the loan list as well, but I don't see anyone coming for them).

For preparation I arranged 9 friendlies, 4 with Liga Alef (3rd tier) teams, 4 with Ligat Winner (1st tier) teams and 1 with a Liga Leumit team, Beitar Tel-Aviv

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Results were OK but we dominated most of the games, including against Maccabi Haifa which is a top 4 club in the country.

So except a few preseason injuries I got exactly what I wanted and the team is pretty much ready for the season.

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Sorry for this annoying white background, I have no idea how to get rid of it

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I have always supported Maccabi Haifa in Israel but this story looks very interesting.

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August 2017

In Israel, the season starts with the Toto Cup, or Gvia HaToto in Hebrew. Each league has it's own cup and it's considered more as a friendly tournament than an official one. You can even field foreign trialists in games!

All of the league's teams are drawn to 4 groups of 4, each team play each other once and the top two qualify to the quarter final. For Ligat Winner it's a bit different because it has 14 teams, I'll explain when we'll play in this one :)

Playing with us in Group B are Hapoel Tel-Aviv which is a huge club in Israel (reached the UEFA Cup quarter final in 2001/02 after knocking out Chelsea and Parma) which went through a financial fiasco over the past 10 years and got relegated after they went into administration and couldn't overcome the 9 points deduction, Hapoel Petach-Tikva which is another club with great tradition but stuck in the second tier for some time now and Ramat HaSharon which are a lower mid-table side.

First up were Hapoel Petach-Tikva. we controlled the game from the off as the hosts barely got out of their own half. We got an early goal through ten Voorde but couldn’t create another good chance and we were punished with a goal from a corner 3 minutes from time. 

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Next we hosted Ramat HaSharon. General play was much better, much more chances created but very poor finishing meant we had to settle again for a point. More work need to be done and for a quarter final spot we’ll probably have to win against Hapoel Tel-Aviv at home in the final group game, which will be played in September.
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And know, to the bread and butter, the league! We couldn't break them down at home but in this one every gun fired. They fought well in the first half and managed to equalise (another corner!) after an early ten Voorde goal. But then Guy Aviv did us a huge favor with a stupid sending off and the second half was piece of cake.

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First league home game, Hapoel Nazareth-Ilit are visiting. They're one of the league's weakest teams so there was no surprise wen ten Voorde scored twice inside 5 minutes. Then we stepped off the gas and they were not far away from completing a shocking comeback. We managed to shut up shop and we go into September with a perfect record.

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September 2017

The month started with the final group stage game in Gvia HaToto. Hapoel Tel-Aviv are a good team plus we had to take ten Voorde of early in the game. His subtitute, Nir Sharon, scored a fluke right before half time as a shot from Velblum was deflected by a defender to Sharon’s head, then to the back of the net. The visitors tried to come back as a loss meant elimination for them, but to no avail. On the 94th minute Malul found Peretz head and the game was done. In the other game Ramat HaSharon beat 3-1 Hapoel Petach-Tikva away and clinched the second spot. We’ll host Hapoel Nazaerth-Ilit in the quarter final which will be played in October.

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Back to league action, an away game against the strong Hapoel Katamon. In uneventful one, they came closest to scoring when a Lior Jan header rattled the crossbar in stoppage time.

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Hapoel Petach-Tikva were up next. Playing them in Gvia HaToto we knew that they can’t offer much (though they have a decent squad) and they were easily dispatched.

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The last game of September saw as visiting Hapoel Kfar-Saba who was relegated from Ligat Winner last season and one of the few that are still unbeaten after 4 games. Things started awkwardly for us, huge mistake at the back let Nworah score after 5 minutes. We knocked on the door and manage to equalised thanks to substitute Nir Sharon, but couldn’t find the winner.

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We still top the league

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This is how Gvia HaToto group stage finished:

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And the quarter final draw

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October 2017

After the international break we hosted Hapoel Rishon Lezion. They’re not a good team but they did beat Hapoel Tel-Aviv 3-0 last round. They didn’t give us any trouble, though, and we cruised away with a 2-0 win. Finishing is a problem as from 21 shots on goal only 6 were on target.

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Next up was a visit to newly promoted Hadera. They play a direct 4-4-2 and gave us some trouble in the first 30 minutes, but then Dervish found ten Voorde with a perfect cross and the game changed.

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Knowing that after Gvia HaToto quarter final we’ll host 2nd placed Hapoel Afula, I decided to field my entire 2nd XI, with only Pshehazkey, the goalkeeper, keeping his spot. It was an easy game from start to finish and the 4-0 scoreline was a fair reflection of the game. The semi final will be held in a neutral venue, and our opponents will be Hapoel Afula. In the other semi final Hapoel Rishon LeZion will play Hapoel Hadera.

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For the last game of October we hosted Hapoel Afula. They are not a strong side normally but a good run of form found them sitting in 2nd. Nir Sharon is playing well and started alongside Rick ten Voorde, with Oz Peretz behind them. Contreras run the show again from midfield and we’re looking excellent with another 4-0.

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November 2017

November didn’t start well. I mean, it started well. We took a 2-0 lead against Maccabi Herzliya and went into cruise control. Then in the last 20 minutes we absolutely broke apart and almost gave away a 3rd goal. On top of that, Contreras suffered a damaged shoulder and is out for 2-3 weeks, So he’ll definitely miss Gvia HaToto semi final and probably the next league game, which is at home to Beitar Tel-Aviv/Ramla

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Hapoel Afula didn’t give us a hard time when we met them in the league a few weeks ago, so the 3-0 score is no surprise. Berkovic filled in well for Contreras, and we’re all set for a final with Hapoel Rishon LeZion, who beat Hadera 3-0 as well.

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Coming into this game, Beitar Tel-Aviv/Ramla were the only unbeaten team in the league, other than us of course. Contreras recovered from his injury and went straight into the starting lineup, but the visitors were stubborn. Ten Voorde twisted his knee after 11 minutes (out for 6-9 days) and his substitute, Haziza, survived only 9 minutes before spraining his ankle. Contreras went behind the strikers and struggled, but 19 minutes from time we got the winner. Oz Peretz found Nir Sharon who dribbled to the box and sent the ball across the keeper and into the bottom corner. Still perfect at home.

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Bnei Lod are bottom of the table with 3 draws and 7 losses in 10 games. They’re also our rivals. Why, you ask? 5 years ago we ran head to head for a single promotion spot, and after a 1-1 draw 5 games before the end of the season, this happened:

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A huge fight erupted involving almost all 36 registered players and Suliman Azberga, the guy in the blue shirt who was (and still is) Bnei Lod Manager. You can watch the fight Here

It wasn’t as easy as we’d like it to be, but we clinched the victory. Nir Sharon again came up with the breakthrough, but then an unexpected equaliser came. It didn’t look like we were going to get the winner but Contreras thought otherwise with a fierce shot to the near post.

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Next, Gvia HaToto final. We’ve won it 5 years ago, and we did it again, pretty easily. Rishon didn’t threaten us at all as we cruised to a 3-1 victory.

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December 2017


Hapoel Tel-Aviv have by far the strongest squad in the league, but still can’t get out of second gear as they got 23 points out of 33 possible. We dispatched them easily in Gvia HaToto but this one was not easy. They defended well and managed to fight back after conceding. I’ll take the point.

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Hapoel Marmorek are the second newly promoted side, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to survive. Easy one for us.

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A midweek travel to Ahi Nazareth followed. We didn’t really show up and lacked concentration in almost every area on the pitch. Their centre back, Akram Shariach, scored his first career goals from two set pieces, And for the first time this season, we are beaten.

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Ironi Nesher are not a strong side, so when we couldn’t score in the first half I’ve shaken things up and changed to a 4-3-3 formation with two inside forwards. We played much better in the second half and got the needed goal, ten Voorde again on the money from a Dervish cross.

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Gvia HaMedina, or the Israeli State Cup in English kicked off for us and we’ve got a reasonable draw, Ramat HaSharon at home. I decided to keep the 4-3-3, with Haziza making a return to the starting lineup instead of Nir Sharon. It payed off and we dispatched the visitors easily.

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Ligat Winner teams join the competition in the 8th round, and we were looking for a kind draw. We’ll visit Hapoel Tel-Aviv. Not a kind draw, but could be a lot worse. 

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The last game of 2017 saw as hosting Ramat HaSharon again. We didn’t change the team, but once again we didn’t really showed up to the game. The first league game we couldn’t score in, and our first home loss, as Arad gave away a stupid penalty.

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January 2018

The first game of 2018 saw us visiting rock bottom Hapoel Nazareth-Ilit. We started well with Contreras scoring after a perfect counter attack and Velblum doubled the lead. The second half was much worse, Falczuk scored for them and Oz Peretz missed a game killing penalty. They threw everything at us but we stood firm and took the 3 points back south. However, our attack is misfiring big time and that’s need to be addressed.

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An away game against Hapoel Tel-Aviv is not an easy task. Especially a cup game. Especially when falling behind. We equalised through the one and only Contreras (who we managed to sign up for another season). We took a complete control over the game, but Yanko was superb in goal for the hosts. Then, 9 minutes before the penalty shoot-out, Dervish passed a simple ball back to Pshehazkey who took a terrible first touch, Hirsh was alert, nicked the ball and killed our cup dream.

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Only 3 days after playing 120 minutes we have another tough away game, Hapoel Petach-Tikva. Team is pretty much unchanged because of injuries, and we struggle to create chances. They took the lead just before half time, but went down to 10 men and we managed to nick a point, Mekonen coming from behind for an easy finish.

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We had 5 days to rest and I gave the team 2 days off so they can be fresh for a big clash against Hapoel Kfar-Saba. They are 2 points behind us and certainly a promotion contender. Rick ten Voorde hit the post twice in the first half as his unbelievable drought continued, and then pulled his groin just before half time. Oz Peretz managed to find the winner 19 minutes from time, and Liran Rotman put the game to bed.

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Hapoel Rishon LeZion lost 4 of their last 5 games, but a cross that deflected off Ofri Arad gave them an early lead. Contreras, again, came to the rescue with an excellent free kick, but we’re still misfiring. A very disappointing draw which convinced me to shake things up.

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For the Hapoel Hadera game I decided to return to the diamond system, with Contreras sitting behind the strikers, and it payed off. The American topped his goal with two assists as we won easily. Ten Voorde is still out of shape, though.

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January was a long month for us, and it’s last game was home to Hapoel Katamon. Only 3 days to rest after Hadera, but we managed to get another 3 points. Contreras broke the deadlock in the second half and Oz Peretz set up Nir Sharon to finish a clinical counter attack. Katamon shot from any possible range, to no avail. 8 games to the end of regular season, we’re 5 points ahead of Hapoel Kfar-Saba and Hapoel Afula, which are our next opponents.

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The only business we made in this transfer window is sending Yariv Calamaro on loan to Ramat HaSharon

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February 2018

Hapoel Afula shouldn’t have been, but they are in a promotion battle. We didn’t underestimate them, just couldn’t find a way past Ron Shushan. Arad gave away another own goal and Oz Peretz had a nightmare as he couldn’t even convert a penalty, after a series of misses in the first half. I took him off at half-time, but it didn't help much.

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Happy with the way we’re playing, we didn’t change anything for the Maccabi Herzliya game. They are weak and struggling, currently 14th in the table. Mekonen opened the scoring after 9 minutes, Nir Sharon and Oz Peretz completed the victory.

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Beitar Tel-Aviv/Ramla beat us 1-0 in the reverse fixture, and I worried about scoring against their firm defence. Ofri Arad calmed my worries after 90 seconds, heading home a Contreras corner. Oz Peretz found Nir Sharon’s head in the second half and we’re looking very much in shape. Ten Voorde, on the other hand, is not. Came on for the last minutes and missed 2 promising chances.

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Before the Bnei Lod, we received our new youth intake, it’s not great but not bad:

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And the top 3 players

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 Just before the Lod game, I extended my contract with the club

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The game itself was easy. Nir Sharon was again on the money with a great finish early in the game, and Liad Berkovic allowed us to take the foot of the gas.

 

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March 2018

Two days before our visit to Hapoel Tel-Aviv, they sacked Moti Ivanir, their manager. Instead of having a walk in the park, Ivanir led them to 5th place after 26 matches, 7 points behind a promotion spot. With Omer Buksenbaum, an Hapoel Ramat-Gan legend himself, as caretaker manager, we didn’t know what to expect. So we lined up as usual, didn’t give them an inch and nicked the 3 points thanks to an Oz Peretz strike.

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Another away game followed, to Hapoel Marmorek who are trying to avoid the drop. A really poor game, but Oz Peretz again gave us the win, an early header from a Dervish cross.

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Our last home game before the playoffs was at home to Ahi Nazareth. They are a good team but very incosticent, sitting in 6th. After a goalless first half, ten Voorde came on and scored his first goal of 2018, from the penalty spot. Liad Berkovic rounded off the victory with a great shot from the edge of the box.

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Next up was rock bottom Nesher, away. Ten Voorde started the game and repaid my faith with a goal, Oz Peretz was the one to open the scoring and even Yosi Mekonen got a goal. Now, playoffs.

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After each team played each other twice, the league splits into two halves: Promotion playoff and Relegation playoff. In this stage, each team plays the teams in the relevant playoff once, hence a total of 37 games. Then top 2 are promoted and bottom 2 are relegated (team in 14th plays a team from Liga Alef, the 3rd tier).

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11 points ahead of 3rd place, this is our playoff schedule:

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April 2018

Beitar Tel-Aviv/Ramla, who are still in the fight for promotion, are our first hurdle in the playoffs. We started well with ten Voorde converting a penalty after 5 minutes, and the visitors didn’t really pose a threat. Peretz finished them off in the second half, but after 7 clean sheets in a row, Pshehazkey couldn’t keep out a great shot from Ansah.

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We could secure promotion with a win at Hapoel Kfar-Saba in case Hapoel Afula won’t beat Beitar Tel-Aviv. We did our part quite easily with ten Voorde back in form, but Afula won by the same scoreline, a stoppage time winner moved them to 2nd. A home win over Hapoel Tel-Aviv in 3 days will guarantee us not only promotion, but the title.

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We bottled it. Went down early to a goal from a corner, and couldn’t score any of the good chances we had. Hapoel Tel-Aviv are in a good form under new manager Kobi Refua, and they’re now 3rd with 63 points, same as 2nd Hapoel Afula.

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A draw away to Hapoel Petach-Tikva was enough for the title, and it’s exactly what we got. Ten Voorde gave as the lead early, they equalised but we were closer to the winning goal than them. Mission accomplished!

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May 2018

 

Last 3 fixtures were only for the protocol and we won all of them comfortably.

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This is the final league table. Hapoel Tel-Aviv managed to avoid a complete humiliation with a decent playoff run, Maccabi Herzliya lost to Kabilio Jaffa in the relegation playoff.

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We dominated the Liga Leumit awards:

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These are the heroes that got us promoted, quite easily.

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A new tradition, Hapoel Ramat-Gan end of season awards:

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The star of this team is without a shadow of a doubt, Mike Contreras. 12 goals and 13 assists, everything came through him. He’s already gaining interest from MLS teams, but about so sign a new 4 year contract, 1.8k p/w.

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As you can see, Ovadid Dervish’s attributes are mediocre, to say the least. But he had a terrific season, constant threat from the right wing and also very good on defence. Having said that, I think this is a position we should look to strengthen for the next season.

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The third player I want to mention is Nir Sharon. Wasn’t supposed to get this much playing time, but almost whenever he played he came up with the goods.

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We’ll also get some more money from sponsors

79ruACcRr6tNOjIvGI3dxsu6D0QSTpUNrJkiSWZGVcTFFqOcGxOS5muOC_K5NAmNpDwyaGklQ9Plfy_l3OMOeb6zzJx9DVehQvHODinZsOuJONlaH_GvxBUsXKsztqpe_e4KjWnD


 

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On 11/9/2017 at 22:26, Deisler26 said:

YISHAR KOACH!

 

17 minutes ago, Slipky said:

Congratulations for the promotion!

Thanks a lot!

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