Maccabi Haifa FC have been crowned Israeli Ligat Ha'Al champions for the eleventh time in their history after triumphing 2-0 at Maccabi Netanya FC to move clear beyond the reach of closest pursuers Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC.
Thembinkosi Fanteni put the visitors on their way to victory with 14 minutes gone and they made sure of the result through Baram Kayal 14 minutes from the final whistle. That left the leaders eight points ahead of Hapoel Tel-Aviv with one match left to play, though their rivals possess a game in hand, and booked them a berth in UEFA Champions League qualifying. It also allowed coach Elisha Levy to celebrate a league crown in his first season in charge, and he can add another trophy on Tuesday when his side compete in the Israel State Cup final against defending champions Beitar Jerusalem FC.
"Maccabi Haifa is a great club with a lot of strength and a massive fan base," Levy said. "I'm delighted we managed to take the title back to Haifa after two years, but even happier with the way in which we achieved it. We scored the most goals and conceded the least, but what brings me an even greater joy is the way we fielded many youngsters, most of whom are homegrown talents." Hoping to become only the second coach to guide Haifa to a domestic double, Levy then promised his players would remain focused: "This is the biggest achievement of my career, but we are looking forward as you don't get many chances in life to win a double."
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