After a 10-year drought, Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer fans had reason to rejoice Monday as their team’s 2-0 victory over Ironi Ramat Hasharon secured the 2012-13 championship title.
Nearly 33,000 supporters wearing the club’s yellow and black were at Ramat Gan Stadium to witness the win that put Maccabi Tel Aviv out of reach in the league standings, 13 points ahead of second place Maccabi Haifa.
Two first-half goals against the sixth ranked Ironi Ramat Hasharon were all Maccabi needed to earn the Premier league trophy and give its title-starved fans a reason to rejoice.
“Yesssss!!! After 10 years of sorrow and disappointment, a Championship for Maccabi,” club supporter and Finance Minister Yair Lapid wrote on his Facebook page.
Club owner, Canadian businessman Mitch Goldhar, called the team a “winning formula,” crediting four years of hard work with the much-anticipated achievement.
“Soccer is not a normal business, it is a process of development between people. We still have goals to pursue, but for now we are happy,” said Goldhar, who has invested millions of dollars in the team in the past four years.
Much of the credit for the club’s success this season goes to head coach, Spanish national Oscar Garcia. The first-time head coach, who arrived in Israel last May, kept his head, distributing platitudes to the players, owners, fans, and rivals.
“We knew today would be a great opportunity for us. The crowd was amazing. They supported us in all our matches” said Garcia. “I am very pleased because we have done a good job… not only in winning the championship — we tried to build a lasting legacy here.”
The championship title, the team’s 18th overall, puts it in a position to qualify for a spot in the prestigious European Champions League, where, if able to make its way through the pre-qualifying rounds, it could eventually face off with star-studded international teams like Manchester United, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich.