Maccabi Tel Aviv's draw with Beitar Jerusalem left them top of the table but midfielder Rafi Dahan thinks an opportunity was missed: "Beitar had just one chance the whole match and converted"
Here in warm, sunny Israel not many football matches can get as many as 26, 000 supporters to leave their dry, cozy living rooms on a cold and rainy winter's night. Last night's clash between titans Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan was one of those matches. Playing in white, Maccabi played out their first draw of the season, 1-1, keeping them at the top of table at the end of the first round of matches in the Israeli Premier League. Despite the occasional heavy showers that fell on and off throughout the match, Maccabi managed to threaten the Beitar goal and five minutes after the restart they climbed to a one goal advantage courtesy of striker Eliran Atar. Just after the hour mark, though, Beitar midfielder Kobi Moyal equalised preventing Maccabi from taking all three points.
Midfielder Rafi Dahan, who came on as a substitute in the second half, was inclined to stress what to his mind had led to dropping two points: "Our finishing was poor today; they had one opportunity throughout the entire match, and it went in. We missed our shots, didn't convert our chances and dropped two points. But now all we're thinking about is the Toto (League) Cup game against Hapoel Haifa. Obviously it would have been better to win but you can't win all season long. No need to come to the match against Maccabi Haifa with our tails between our legs".
Dahan also discussed the personal aspect: "I work hard in training, wait for my chance to play and get back into the squad and I hope to take full advantage of any opportunity". Regarding the team's expectations for the rest of the season the midfielder said: "We have an excellent and close-knit squad and a great coaching staff that give us their all, and I think we should give it everything we have".
Maccabi Tel Aviv's coach, Oscar Garcia, was also disappointed at dropping two points: "I'm unhappy because we didn’t score from some good situations, but I think that we played well and we deserved to win. Players sometimes score and sometimes they miss, and today we missed. On the other hand, when you lose concentration, you give your rival an opportunity to score. If we had only been a bit more focused today we would have won – but that's the way it is, anything can happen in football".
As for the team's position at the top of the table on 28 points at the end of the first round of league play, Oscar said: "I am satisfied and I think that the fans are too. When the season started, we said that if we end up with this number of points, we will be satisfied". Oscar also referred to the experience of playing in front of 26,000 spectators: "It was great for me and the players to play in that atmosphere for the first time this season".
Maccabi Tel Aviv captain, defender Sheran Yeini, was also disappointed at not taking all three points.: "We deserved all three points today. We should have converted our chances but we didn't and conceding like that, really a pity". Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama was even more forceful in his reaction than his teammates: "So far I'm concerned, we lost the match, despite the draw, we simply dropped three points today".