The Umm al-Fahm athletes were “playing as equals with their illustrious opponents,” according to an article on the Maccabi Tel Aviv website.
By World Israel News Staff
Hapoel Umm al-Fahm, a second division soccer team from an Arab city in northern Israel, pulled off a major upset on Saturday when it defeated powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israel Premier League in State Cup competition.
The Premier League includes the country’s top teams followed by the squads from the second division, known as the National League.
During the State Cup tournament, teams from the different leagues get to play each other in one-off elimination contests. It runs separately from the various league schedules.
Umm al-Fahm came back from a 2-0 deficit to eliminate Tel Aviv with a 3-2 victory in Saturday’s match.
It was “one of the biggest State Cup upsets of recent years,” acknowledged an article published on the Maccabi Tel Aviv website.
Umm al-Fahm is located in the Haifa District. According to official figures, its 2018 population was 55,182, nearly all of whom are Israeli Arabs.
The second division team “began as clear underdogs [but] put on a spirited second half comeback to end Maccabi’s challenge for another trophy in the eighth round of the competition, the stage when top division clubs enter the competition,” explained the article on the Tel Aviv webpage.
At least in this match, “it was hard to differentiate” between the two teams, and the Umm al-Fahm athletes were “playing as equals with their illustrious opponents,” according to the article.
Arab MK Aymen Odeh, leader of the Joint List faction in Israel’s Knesset, said after the game that he had called the Umm al-Fahm coach to express his sense of pride and the feeling of inspiration he drew from the team’s performance.