ROOSTER

FOWL play was certainly afoot at the weekend when a top-flight Israeli league football match was brought to a halt by a runaway rooster. The feathered invader was let loose onto the pitch by Bnei Yehuda supporters during their game at Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium. Evading security personnel with a series of shimmies and body swerves for nearly three minutes, the pitch’s wet surface, allied with the security’s lack of suitable footwear meant the cockerel’s claws allowed it to display some impressive agility before finally leaving the pitch. It certainly proved to one of the highlights in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

OFF THE pitch, Israeli football has been paying its respect to Richard Moller Nielsen, the Danish coach who nearly led the national team to the 2002 World Cup. Most famous for winning the 1992 European Championships with his home nation, he took charge of Israel in 2000 and took them to within a whisker of reaching the play-offs for the tournament in Japan, only to be denied by an injury-time Austrian strike. Instilling confidence and belief in the squad, he also tried to teach the players not to celebrate after scoring a goal, believing it was one of the reasons the team allowed the other side to score. Unable to recover from surgery he underwent in September to remove a tumour from his brain, he died last week, aged 76.

CELTIC manager Neil Lennon believes his young midfielder Nir Biton is set for a starring role at The Hoops. Pinpointing a central role for the 22-year-old, Lennon said: “There’s a great chance for him now. We’ve got a good run of games until the end of the season and we will use him. We’re hoping to get five or six matches into him to get him adjusted to the British game. It takes a bit of time to adapt, but we feel he has the build and the talent for it and we’re working on his mental strength now as well.” Whatever happens in his first season, he’s set to have a Scottish League title to his name.