Coach Graham Arnold confirms Maccabi Haifa striker Nikita Rukavytsya in line for Australia recall


Last year, Rukavytsya had the longest unbroken scoring run in top-division football anywhere on the planet, according to the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), with a streak between August and December in which he bagged at least one goal in 13 consecutive games.

The IFFHS also rated him at ninth in their ‘World’s Best Top Scorer’ award for 2020, sandwiched between names such as Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian M’bappe – incredible company for any player, let alone one with a CV as humble as Rukavytsya’s.

Nikita Rukavytsya is in his fifth season at Maccabi Haifa, but his last two have been truly exceptional.Credit:Getty

Arnold has been thoroughly impressed as he patiently awaits the end of what has been the longest break between matches for the Socceroos in more than 50 years, having gone through 2020 without so much as a training camp.

But Australia’s qualifying path for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is finally set to resume next month with an away trip to Nepal, and Arnold said Rukavytsya – who last wore the green and gold against Honduras in November 2017 – was in the frame for a call-up.

“With COVID, there’s no guarantees with anything. But in a football sense, you look at how well he’s doing, and he’s on that list to be looked at,” Arnold said. “A kid that’s doing fantastic, got fourth in player of the year in Asia – we’re crazy not to look. I watch his games every week and he’s got a coach and a style that is fitting and suiting him exceptionally well.

“The reason why he’s gone to this other level is like anything – he’s at that age of maturity and experience. Now when he gets half a chance in front of goal, he’s calm, he’s relaxed and he just finishes it. When you’re a bit younger you have a rush of blood or you’re a bit more excited.

“He’s 33 years of age but he hasn’t lost one bit of his speed. If anything his touch has got much better, [as has] his awareness of his runs in the box.”

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Rukavytsya moved to Israel, where his wife is from, after leaving the Wanderers in 2015 and spent a year with Beitar Jerusalem before signing for Maccabi Haifa. Now in his fifth season with the club, the Socceroo was reportedly in the process of obtaining Israeli citizenship several years ago.

“It’s a big thing for a player when they’re away from home, happiness off the field, and being settled in a stable environment. He is that,” Arnold said.

“He’s been at the one club for a number of years now, he’s a legend of the club. He’s a quiet kid, a great kid, he’s proud to wear that Australian shirt and he’s desperate to get back in it.”

The Socceroos are officially scheduled to play a home World Cup qualifier against Kuwait on March 25, but sources say that match is likely to be postponed until the June international break, because of difficulties getting players in and out of the country. The Nepal game, however, is a certainty to be played as slated on March 30, and travel exemptions from that country’s government could enable Arnold to call up a strong squad of overseas-based players.

Meanwhile, Arnold welcomed Mat Ryan’s loan move to Arsenal, with the Socceroo poised for his first minutes at the English Premier League club this weekend if he can recover from a minor hip injury in time.

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Ryan missed Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat to Wolverhampton on Wednesday morning (AEST), when he would have been called upon after a red card to first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno in the second half.

Leno is now suspended for Arsenal’s next match on Saturday away to Aston Villa.

“I texted him this morning – he had a very, very small hip injury, so it made him not be on the bench … but the goalkeeper got sent off so let’s expect Maty to play this weekend for Arsenal,” Arnold said.

“It just shows you the respect Maty has in the UK and the EPL that a big club like Arsenal wants him to be part of the club. He’s got a chance of playing rather than being at Brighton where he was told he wasn’t going to be playing, and that gives the guy a lot of energy and renewed thoughts about moving forward.”

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Guenther Steiner, Haas, Nikita Mazepin scandal, groping, “grow up”


Haas’ F1 team principal Guenther Steiner has broken his silence on the Nikita Mazepin scandal that rocked the team late last year.

Having sacked both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean before hiring rookies Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher, the team was probably hoping for a relatively quiet Christmas.

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But in early December, vision emerged on social media of Mazepin, the 21-year-old son of a Russian chemicals billionaire, groping a woman’s breasts in a car.

The woman in the clip moves Mazepin’s hand before raising a middle finger and swatting the camera away.

The F1 world lashed out immediately with Haas condemning the behaviour and calling the actions “abhorrent to Haas F1 team”.

Mazepin did issue an apology and the woman said it was a misunderstanding and “nothing from that video was serious at all” but it didn’t stop the F1 world from piling into the driver.

However, as one reason behind Haas’ promotion of Mazepin and Schumacher was the ability for the pair to bring extra funding to the team, Haas have stood by the driver and he will make his debut for Haas in 2021.

In a column for The Race, Steiner broke his silence on the issue, writing that the Mazepin knew he had done the wrong thing.

“He did something he shouldn’t have done, and we were very outspoken about what we thought about it at the time,” said Steiner.

“He’s apologised and he knows it was wrong, and now we need to work on it to give him the best opportunity to learn from this, concentrate on his racing and ensure he doesn’t do it anymore.

“He knows that. He realises that what was done wasn’t right.

“I’m not the type of guy who kicks in the face someone who’s on their knees – that’s not right.

“This is a young man who needs to grow up and for sure we have dealt with this and we will continue to deal with this.”

Steiner continued to say that the team would be trying to educate him further and that the consequences for further scandals would be serious.

“We have put things in place that will help him to get better and make sure this doesn’t happen again; not to make the same mistake again, because this was a clear mistake,” he wrote.

“And he took responsibility, which for me was very important. I always say if you know what you did wrong you can do better. If you are in denial, then it doesn’t work.

“People have an opinion, that’s fine, also internally people didn’t like what happened, and this is why we continue to take this seriously

“But the full details of what we did, and what we are doing – I don’t want to disclose. This is not done and dusted, this is an ongoing thing, we are not moving on like nothing ever happened.”



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F1 2020, Driver line-up: Haas, Nikita Mazepin groping video, reaction


The Haas Formula One team confirmed on Wednesday that Russian driver Nikita Mazepin would drive for them next season after concluding an internal investigation into his recent conduct in an online video.

Mazepin signed a “multi-year” deal with Haas at the start of December after a successful season in Formula Two.

He will line up alongside Mick Schumacher, the son of the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, in an all-rooky partnership.

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Nikita Mazepin Haas statement, driver seat secured, Instagram model Andrea D’Ival, grope car


The Haas Formula One team confirmed on Wednesday that Russian driver Nikita Mazepin would drive for them next season after concluding an internal investigation into his recent conduct in an online video.

Mazepin signed a “multi-year” deal with Haas at the start of December after a successful season in Formula Two.

He will line up alongside Mick Schumacher, the son of the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, in an all-rookie partnership.

Shortly after the announcement, a video surfaced on the Russian’s Instagram account of him making a seemingly unsolicited attempt to touch a woman’s breast.

Haas were quick to condemn the 23-second video clip, shot by a front-seat passenger in a moving car with Mazepin and the woman in the back seat and opened an internal inquiry which they now say has ended.

“Haas F1 Team would like to reaffirm that Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher will form its driver line-up for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship,” the team statement read.

“As per the team’s previous statement regarding the actions of Nikita Mazepin (9 December) – this matter has now been dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made.”

The 21-year-old son of billionaire Dmitry Mazepin apologised for his “inappropriate” behaviour.

“I admit that I failed in my duties to myself and to a lot of people. I promise to learn from this,” he said.

But his survival has been met with more anger from the F1 community.

WTF1 presenter Matt Gallagher tweeted: “I’ve never been so disappointed in the sport I truly love. What a f***ing disgrace.”



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F1 2020: Nikita Mazepin video, Andrea D’Ival, grope, reaction


The woman who was groped in a video that caused a storm in the Formula 1 world has spoken out in defence of driver Nikita Mazepin.

“Hi guys, I just want to let you know Nikita and I have been good friends for a long time and nothing from that video was serious at all!” Andrea D’Ival, who has been identified by multiple outlets as the woman involved, wrote on the social media site.

“We trust each other so much and this was a silly way of joking between us. I posted this video on his story as an internal joke. I am truly sorry. I can give you my word he’s a really good person and he would never do anything to hurt me or humiliate me.”

Schumacher crowned champion

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Mazepin’s own apology and the woman’s defence have come after severe backlash from the racing community.



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F1 news: Nikita Mazepin, Instagram video, Haas statement, reaction


Haas have come out and condemned the behaviour of incoming Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin over his actions in a video posted to Instagram.

The team announced Mazepin, a current Formula 2 driver, would be joining the main grid from 2021. However his seat may now be in jeopardy.

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A video uploaded to Mazepin’s Instagram page quickly whipped around social media before it was removed from his personal page.

It shows Mazepin sitting in the passenger seat of a car before the camera pans to the back seat where he reaches back and grabs the woman sitting in the back of the car on the chest.





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Nikita Mazepin, Instagram video, Haas statement, reaction


Haas have come out and condemned the behaviour of incoming Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin over his actions in a video posted to Instagram.

The team announced Mazepin, a current Formula 2 driver, would be joining the main grid from 2021. However his seat may now be in jeopardy.

Watch the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship™ on KAYO. Every practice, qualifying session and race LIVE. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >

A video uploaded to Mazepin’s Instagram page quickly whipped around social media before it was removed from his personal page.

It shows Mazepin sitting in the passenger seat of a car before the camera pans to the back seat where he reaches back and grabs the woman sitting in the back of the car on the chest.

The woman in the clip moves Mazepin’s hand before raising a middle finger and swatting the camera away.

Haas issued a scathing statement on Wednesday where it said they would be taking internal action over the incoming driver’s antics.

“Haas F1 Team does not condone the behaviour of Nikita Mazepin in the video recently posted on his social media,” the statement reads.

“Additionally, the very fact the video was posted on social media is also abhorrent to Haas F1 Team.

“The matter is being dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made at this time.”

Mazepin, 21, was quick to follow from the team statement with one of his own, where he apologised for his actions.

“I would like to apologise for my recent actions both in terms of my own inappropriate behaviour and the fact that it was posted onto social media,” Mazepin said.

“I am sorry for the offence I have rightly caused and to the embarrassment I have brought to Haas F1 Team.

“I have to hold myself to a higher standard as a Formula 1 driver and I acknowledge I have let myself and many people down. I promise I will learn from this.”

A week after being named as joining the Haas team for the 2021 season, Mazepin finished the 2020 F2 season in fifth place.

Mazepin will partner alongside Mick Schumacher in the new look Haas outfit for next season, but his on track antics in the final race of the season raised the eyebrows of team principal Guenther Steiner.

“I’ve seen the F2 race, he got the penalty,” Steiner told RaceFans.net.

“I think it’s part of learning and for sure we have got our work cut out, I guess, I think I’m right there.

“We need to learn from this and see that these mistakes are not done.”

The final race of the Formula 1 season will take place in Abu Dhabi.



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