So, after not even expecting to be here this year, we begin our campaign in the top-flight of Israel with our hastily put together squad against strong opposition. A quick look at the season preview shows Beitar Jerusalem are 3rd favourites for the league, while we sit firmly at the bottom of the pile at a cool 800-1… Worth a punt if you ask me! (That might be over confidence from our Toto Cup victory against reigning champions Maccabi Haifa)
We lined up with the same system that brought us success last year with some new names to strengthen, young CB Josep Palau starts as Omer Tzalisher is yet to come back from injury, picked up on a free from Spain to add depth to our defence.
The star summer signing Fedotov hit the ground running, scoring 9 minutes into the first league game, the perfect example of a MEZ (A). Neat work that started with Jabarin, Ganon and Fedotov all exchanging passes before a late run into the right hand side of the box lead to Fedotov in to finish across the keeper.
We doubled our lead in the 20th minute, last season’s top-scorer Kutalia with a great poachers goal, beating the offside trap and slotting home neatly. A dream start to the league for Fahm!
I realised there was VAR in this division in the 52nd minute as we were awarded a penalty, which Jabarin converted to put us 3-0 up on the opening day! The rout was complete just 4 minutes later as Kutalia scored his second and Fahm’s 4th, Jabarin swung in a cross from the right and found the forward unmarked at the near post who headed home with ease.
It ends 4-0 and it’s the dream start to the league. Hopefully something to build on, as the opening exchanges are a great chance to capitalise on complacency and get some early points on the board.
After returning to full training the day after the opener Tzalisher picks up another 5-6 week injury, youngster Palau is going to be getting plenty of action in his early career.
Just before our tenth game, we brought in exciting CAM Hen Maliach, at a cost of £0 from Hapoel Jerusalem, at 17 there’s plenty of potential and already at 2.5* was a nice surprise too, it wasn’t a position I necessarily thought was needed, but seemed too good to pass up.
Rather than do small reviews from the other 9 of the opening 10 like last season, I’m going to just show the fixtures and where we are in the table
After the opening 4-0 thrashing of Beitar Jerusalem, things settled down and we results became somewhat more normal. However, the start of the season has been wildly above and beyond what I ever could have hoped for. Up in 4th in the league, we’ve certainly shown we can compete at this new higher level. The 2nd highest scorers in the league and 7th best defence have left us in a European spot. Early days of course and a long way to go but perhaps my rushed squad build wasn’t as bad as I had once feared.
With our National A license secured, the board agreed to another, so we start our Continental C, although we’ve made a good start, I’m still going to keep my eyes on other jobs as we progress through the season, if we can maintain our good form, a move while our stock is high might be the best thing to do.
UP NEXT… The mid-season review.