Maccabi WP kicked off 2018 with a friendly football match between the Israel community and the mighty ‘Azzurri’ Italian community at the UCT Astro Turf fields in Cape Town on 1 February.
The last time these two teams met, Israel came out narrow victors winning 4-3. The match was played under floodlights on a superb UCT pitch and was well supported by friends and family. Both teams were represented by members of their respective communities who play soccer socially and/or at amateur club level.
The match started well for the Israeli side who went 1-0 up with a sublime 30 yard long range finish from Aron Freeman, smashing the ball to the top left hand post giving the Italian GK no chance. Shortly after the goal, Israel were forced into a change, with one of their centre backs having to go off due to injury, however and despite the first half beaning dominated by the Italians, Israel managed to hold on and go into the break 1-0 up.
The Israeli Maccabees were lead out by captain courageous, Daniel Serman, with the Italians relying heavily on their talisman and stalwart, Saverio Talotti for victory. The second half began at a blistering pace with the Italians pressing Israel and testing out their new defensive structure, but Israel dug deep and managed to keep the Italians at bay with a steady flow of “heart on sleeve” tackles. Israel were enjoying some well-deserved possession and 20mins into the second half, Israel’s right wingback, David Silverman received the ball deep in his own half, beat a few players, laid off the ball for a cross which was met by Ryan Smith who managed to time his run to perfection, slotting in the 2nd goal of the game and giving the Israeli’s a two goal cushion.
With about five minutes left on the clock, it was time for Israel to place some pressure on the Italians defence and managed to win a corner. The corner was whipped in by Ryan Smith and somehow found the knee of striker Benji Dadon who slotted home the third and final goal for the Israelis, sealing the match 3-0! Despite the score line, it was a close game, with the Italians enjoying the majority of possession, but with Israel playing with a lot of passion and determination. The wining Israel captain, Daniel Serman had this to say: “The competitive nature of this game, coupled with the fantastic friendship we have made off the field ensures that it is always a great game enjoyed by all.”
Ronen Cohen (Maccabi WP Chairman) said: “The game was played in a fantastic spirit with intense pressure from both teams. Maccabi WP’s mandate as a community sports organisation extends beyond our own programme to also include interaction with other surrounding communities. This friendly contest between Jewish and Italian footballers was thoroughly enjoyed by all and served to highlight how much we all have in common.’’
Maccabi South Africa has shifted its focus from being a primarily “every four year Games” focused organisation to providing a meaningful, relevant sports service for the whole Jewish community. ‘’This soccer match is just one of many recreational activities that Maccabi WP has planned to keep our community active and involved’’, added Cohen.
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