Soccer-Netanya name Atar as coach in place of sacked Guttman

JERUSALEM Wed Jan 3, 2007 7:50pm GMT

JERUSALEM Jan 3 (Reuters) - Israeli Premier League side Maccabi Netanya named Reuven Atar as their new coach on Wednesday in place of Eli Guttman.

The sudden appointment of Atar, 38 on Wednesday, came days after a public row between Guttman and goalkeeper-captain Liran Strauber, whom the coach had suspended because he was unhappy with the player's training regimen.

"This is the happiest birthday I can remember," said Atar, a much-loved and respected player for Netanya before his retirement.

As coach he led the club to a seventh-place finish last season. They are currently eighth in the 12-team league with four wins, six draws and four losses.

Atar was dismissed as coach of strugglers Maccabi Herzliya in October after only a few weeks in charge.

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