BENAYOUNCAP

Former Israeli captain Benayoun now faces a relegation struggle at Maccabi Haifa

THE LAST thing Yossi Benayoun thought he was signing up for was a relegation battle, but that’s what he’s found himself engulfed in during his latest spell at Maccabi Haifa. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Maccabi Petah Tikva was their 11th of the season and leaves them five points outside of the relegation zone. Taking the blame for their predicament, though sharing it with his teammates, the former Israeli captain said: “We are mixed up in the battle against relegation and the sooner we understand that the better. We’re not good enough, you can’t blame the coaches for the way we are playing. The players are the ones to blame.” Owner Jacob Shachar was fuming after the match, and revealed how he had let his players know in no uncertain terms exactly how he felt. He told them: “This is disgusting, I’m ashamed. I haven’t seen anything like this in my 23 years at the club. We have 18,000 season-ticket holders, a new stadium, and only the team is weak.”

THEY SAY sport and politics shouldn’t mix, but there will be one exception to the rule when a team from the Israeli Knesset and German Bundestag play a friendly footbal match in April. The Israeli Parliament team do in fact have a team, albeit one which only plays once a year, that sole game against the Israeli media team always ending in defeat. Yitzhak Hanegbi has kept goal for the team for the past 27 years, though isn’t exactly full of confidence, saying: “The problem with the Knesset team is that the members collapse during the warm-up, I’ll settle for a 1-0 score in favour of the Germans.”

VETERAN SWIMMER Susan Halter continues to make a splash in the pool, her latest two wins coming at the South East Masters and Senior Age Group Long Course competition at K2 Crawley. However, time waits for no one and at the grand old age of 87, she says: “Perhaps I should give up galas and just have a swim for pleasure in the local pool.” A winner of hundreds of medals, the day she makes her last competitive jump into the pool will be a sad one.