OLIM FOOTBALLThe standout fixture in the latest round of Olim League action sees a clash of local rivals take place as Inter Tel Aviv go to Jaffa, writes Danny Newman.

ASHDOD (7th) vs MODI’IN (9th)

With Real Athletico Jerusalem not playing this week, a point will be enough to take Ashdod out of the bottom three. However, they will be looking to get the full three points which ought to secure them mid-table safety, and avoid a potential relegation battle, should the league expand to two divisions next year.

Both sides go into this fixture on the back of defeats against the top two sides last week. Modi’in lost by the odd goal against Jaffa in which both sides missed penalties and Ashdod lost a heated affair against Ra’anana, in a game they ended with nine players. As a result, Jonas Marciano and Jeffrey Rudowicz will be suspended for the French hosts.

When these teams met in the reverse fixture three months ago, Ashdod came away with the points thanks to a brace from top scorer Shmouel Darmon.

Jamie Lazarus will hope his team capitalize on the suspensions and close the gap between the two sides, hoping to find the form that saw them take points of league leaders Ra’anana a few weeks ago.

Games between these two are usually tight affairs, but home advantage, despite the suspensions ought to see David Ohayon’s French legion come away with the points and condemn Modi’in to an all but certain bottom two finish this year.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Modi’in 1 v Ashdod 3

Leading Scorers:
Ashdod: Shmouel Darmon 8
Modi’in: Matan Kroizer 4

Dangermen:
Aviv Bikhar (Ashdod)
Itai Saidoff (Modi’in)

Form:
Ashdod: LWLWL
Modi’in: LWDLL

Prediction:
Ashdod 2 v Modi’in 1

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ENGLAND FC (5th) vs RA’ANANA (1st)

This game is in doubt after Ra’anana put in a request to postpone the game due to a lack of players. Citing the army as an excuse for lack of players, England FC kindly agreed to the request should Ra’anana fail to gather 11, though rumours of other reasons including a potential appearance of a key player in another league oversees this weekend has left some other managers questioning the motives of a request. At time of press, the fixture is still in question, though the league’s committee ruled, that if all attempts to raise a team fail, then due to Enlgand FC already agreeing to a postponement, then should an alternative fixture be arranged and played before the end of the season, then fine, if not, Ra’anana may end up forfeiting the game.

Should the game go ahead, both sides will go into this fixture with key players absent, including ex-Hendon United players, Motti Colman (England FC) who is suspended and Josh Lipman (Ra’anana) who is away.

In a reversal of fortunes from previous seasons, perennial challengers and former champs England FC find themselves way off the pace, and for the first time ever, were out of contention before half the season had been played. Ra’anana have been very impressive this year, unbeaten and surely only a few games away from their first title in Olim football.

Should this game take place, then despite missing key players, Ra’anana have plenty of options going forward to make sure that their 7 point lead at the top remains intact.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Ra’anana 5 v England FC 2

Leading Scorers:
Ra’anana: Aviad Ben Meir 19
England FC: Gaby Balulu 7

Dangermen:
Liran Sinai (England FC)
Gavriel Kanichowsky (Ra’anana)

Form:
England FC: DDLWW
Ra’anana: WDWWW

Prediction:
England FC 1 v Ra’anana 3

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JERUSALEM (3rd) vs RAINBALL TEL AVIV (9th)

This game has a home banker written all over this. With two games in hand, third place Jerusalem who have the highest goals per game ratio and lowest goals per game conceded, host the league’s basement side who boast the worst defensive record and weakest strike force. Despite missing a couple of key players, Jerusalem should still have plenty of fire power to see them stay within touching distance of the two teams ahead of them.

When the two sides met the first week of November in Tel Aviv, seven players found the score sheet in an 11-1 mauling, with defender Solomon Emeke Eza taking the plaudits with a rare hat-trick.

In what has been a harsh introduction to the Olim League, Rainball have definitely improved over the past month, and despite still waiting their first points of the season, have taken the three sides that convincingly beat them earlier in the season, to far closer results since the start of January.

Jerusalem can expect a far tougher performance this time round, but should still end the weekend with another 3 points in the bag, as they search for their 3rd consecutive clean sheet.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Rainball Tel Aviv 1 v Jerusalem 11

Leading Scorers:
Jerusalem: Zack Lewis 13
Rainball Tel Aviv: Noam Siluk 3

Dangermen:
Dan Cohen (Jerusalem)
Richard Hinnawi (Rainball Tel Aviv)

Form:
Jerusalem: WWLWW
Rainball Tel Aviv: LLLLL

Prediction:
Jerusalem 4 v Rainball Tel Aviv 0

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JAFFA (2nd) vs INTER TEL AVIV (4th)

Match of the day sees Jaffa looking to pull away from local rivals Inter, in the battle for bragging rights as the league’s top Tel Aviv-Jaffa based team.

When these sides met earlier in the season, it was Inter who came away the happier after a hard fought 4-2 victory. However since then, Daniel Berkeley has worked wonders with his troops as Jaffa have only lost one in the past three months, as they have steadily climbed the table.

Inter have been a breath of fresh air this year in their inaugural season, and have been solid ever since their opening day mauling by league leaders Ra’anana. They have made a few key signings from local rivals England FC, and could very well be title contenders over the coming seasons.

This game could really go either way, and this ought to be a very high quality advert for the Olim league. Anything but a win for either side could put an end to any title hopes this year, depending on how other results go.

Reverse Fixture this season:
Inter Tel Aviv 4 v Jaffa 2

Leading Scorers:
Jaffa: Josh Bar 8
Inter Tel Aviv: Emanuel Scholz 6

Dangermen:
Josh Bar (Jaffa)
Mike Langer (Inter Tel Aviv)

Form:
Jaffa: WWWLW
Inter Tel Aviv: LWWLW

Prediction:
Jaffa 2 v Inter Tel Aviv 2