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Season review: Israel

Published: Sunday 1 May 2011, 19.26CET
Maccabi Haifa FC regained their stranglehold of the Israeli Premier League after claiming their 12th league crown and seventh since its inauguration in 1999.
Season review: Israel
Elisha Levy led Maccabi Haifa to glory ©Getty Images
Published: Sunday 1 May 2011, 19.26CET

Season review: Israel

Maccabi Haifa FC regained their stranglehold of the Israeli Premier League after claiming their 12th league crown and seventh since its inauguration in 1999.

After relinquishing their crown on the final day of last season, Maccabi Haifa FC became Israeli champions for the 12th time, but they failed to secure a domestic double after succumbing to Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in the State Cup final. 

Champions: Maccabi Haifa FC
Despite the loss of several key players including Jorge Teixeira, Shlomi Arbeitman and Beram Kayal, Maccabi Haifa coach Elisha Levy remained confident his side would top the standings come the end of the season. Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC stated their ambition with a number of high-profile summer recruitments, but the writing was on the wall after they suffered a 1-0 defeat by Haifa on the opening day of the season. And after sauntering to another title, Haifa owner Jacob Shachar said: "This crown is sweet, but it is a lot sweeter considering what happened last year."

Cup final: Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC 1-0 Maccabi Haifa FC
It took just 110 seconds for Salim Tuama to open the scoring and clinch Hapoel Tel-Aviv the Israeli Cup, while denying Haifa a domestic double. Immediately after the game, Hapoel coach Eli Guttman, announced his decision to leave the club after four years at the helm.

European places*
Maccabi Haifa FC - UEFA Champions League
Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC - UEFA Europa League qualifying round
Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC - UEFA Europa League qualifying round
Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC - UEFA Europa League qualifying round

*Exact rounds and entry subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Lior Refaelov (Maccabi Haifa FC)
Haifa midfielder Lior Refaelov has always been revered for his leadership qualities, yet he added an extra dimension to his game, finding the net on 12 occasions. Refaelov would often prove the difference when Elisha Levy's side came up against a stubborn defence, but this season would be his last in Haifa colours.

One to watch: Taleb Tawatha (Maccabi Haifa FC)
After Tsepo Masilele's injury, the 19-year-old stepped up and prospered in an unfamiliar left-back role. His speed and technique in attack created space and opportunities for his team-mates, while he was consistently solid in defence.

Surprise package: Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona FC
The club from the north of Israeli were tipped to go straight back down following promotion from Israel's second tier. However, a combination of local talent and a wise head in the form of coach Ran Ben Shimon helped the team finish three points short of a European place.

Leading scorer: Toto Tamuz (Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC) 21

Number: 568
Arik Benado set a new record for Israeli top-flight appearances (568), overtaking fellow defender Alon Harazi.

Relegated: Hapoel Ashkelon FC, Hapoel Ramat-Gan FC

Promoted: Hapoel Ironi Nir Ramat HaSharon FC, Hapoel Rishon LeZion FC

Quote:
"I've enjoyed many sweet championships, but this is the sweetest because of how we started the season. Good players left and it's amazing that we still came through. We also led the table for the majority of the season."
(Maccabi Haifa FC defender Arik Benado, after securing his ninth championship.)

Last updated: 19/04/12 17.00CET

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