Sahar to play up Pompey


Ben Sahar and his club Chelsea have agreed a six-month loan deal with FA Cup winners Portsmouth. Currently on holiday in Israel, the former Hapoel Tel Aviv striker will earn £15,000 a week with Pompey and will fly back to England next week to begin training at Fratton Park.

“Ben’s agent, Pini Zahavi, put him under pressure to stay in England,” said the player’s mother, Batya. “We were eager for Ben to play in Holland where he would have been guaranteed first team football with NEC Nijmegen but the club were paying him much less and were arguing over the contract.”

At Pompey, Sahar will struggle to command a place on the bench let alone on the pitch. The club have a strikeforce that includes England internationals Jermain Defoe and David Nugent along with Nigerian pair Kanu and John Utaka, and Sahar’s appearances may be limited to Carling Cup matches. But Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp wants to strengthen his squad with the Cup winners challeging on four fronts next season including the Uefa Cup.

“If Sahar is prepared to work hard he will succeed,” said Portsmouth owner Sacha Gaydamak, who was in Israel last weekend to celebrate the batmitzvah of Avram Grant’s daughter, Romi, at Kibbutz Sdot Yam near Netanya.

Grant has declined an offer to manage the Georgia national team. The ex-Chelsea boss has told friends that he wants to carry on working in England.

Eyal Berkovic has made a U-turn on his decision to become coach of Israel’s Under-17 team. The former Premier League star was appointed last week but after accepting an offer to become head of the newly established Nesher Football Youth Academy near Haifa, he was told by Israel FA President  Avi Luzon that this constituted a conflict of interests and he must relinquish one of his posts.

Former Israel captain Tal Banin was named Under-17 coach in Berkovic’s place.

The Israel FA has accepted a radical proposal by Luzon to expand Israel’s top division from 12 to 16 clubs starting from 2009/2010. This means that in the coming season, only one club will be relegated from the top flight, while five teams will win promotion from the second division.

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