Charl­ton pals face off in Is­rael v Wales tie

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Daniel Ross

CHARL­TON Ath­letic bo­som bud­dies Tal Ben Haim and Simon Church will be­come the best of enemies when Wales travel to Is­rael next Satur­day for their Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship qual­i­fier.

Since Ben Haim ar­rived in south Lon­don at the start of the sea­son, the two have be­come al­most in­sep­a­ra­ble, driv­ing to Charl­ton’s Spar­rows Lane train­ing ground to­gether each morn­ing.

The pair have both played their part in Charl­ton’s re­nais­sance un­der manager Guy Lu­zon, most re­cently with Church netting his first league goal of the sea­son in the 3-0 romp at Black­pool last Tues­day that se­cured a sixth win from eight games.

But the next time they step out on the pitch, Ben Haim is ex­pected to be charged with mark­ing Church out of the game in the hope Is­rael can ex­tend their ad­van­tage at the top of Group B in their bid to reach the Euro fi­nals in France next sum­mer.

Af­ter the Welsh­man broke his duck at Black­pool, he is des­per­ate to re­peat the feat and get one over on his mate in the process.

“It will be strange but as soon as the match starts I’m sure no one’s go­ing to be think­ing about how well they know each other,” said Church. “Per­son­ally, I know I’d love to score against him and that will be an ex­tra in­cen­tive, def­i­nitely.

“It’s go­ing to be a tough game, I know that from play­ing against him in train­ing!”


De­fender Ben Haim added: “It’s go­ing to be a bit weird be­cause we see each other ev­ery day, we travel to­gether and we’re re­ally good team-mates, but we’ll both be look­ing to do the best for our coun­try.

“There’s no doubt that it’s a huge game for both teams, the win­ner will get an ad­van­tage and a boost in con­fi­dence.”

For Church, the in­ter­na­tional break will be a wel­come dis­trac­tion from what has been a dif­fi­cult sea­son for him at The Val­ley.

The 26-year-old striker has strug­gled with a shoul­der in­jury and his fu­ture is in limbo with con­tract talks on hold.

He is the first to ad­mit he has been ques­tion­ing whether his Wales spot is in jeop­ardy, es­pe­cially with Burn­ley’s Sam Vokes hav­ing re­cently re­turned from in­jury and promis­ing Le­ices­ter for­ward Tom Lawrence also wait­ing in the wings. “Of course, there’s al­ways a worry that if I’m not play­ing here then I might lose my place in the squad,” Church added.

“I’ve started quite a few games in the cam­paign but I’m not a per­ma­nent name on the list.

“I’m happy to be in­volved and I want to make sure I can make full use of this chance.


“I haven’t had as much game time as I’d like at Charl­ton, but I’m just con­cen­trat­ing on tak­ing my op­por­tu­ni­ties when I get them. It was good to play against Black­pool and use­ful for my con­fi­dence to get a goal.”

The Ad­dicks are now safely tucked in in mid-ta­ble. Those that booed Is­raeli boss Lu­zon in the first few weeks of his ten­ure are be­gin­ning to be won round and, for com­pa­triot Ben Haim, this is no sur­prise.

“The new manager came with dif­fer­ent ideas, the play­ers have taken to it and now the re­sults have started to come – we’re re­ally happy about it,” said the 32-year-old.

“When we have video anal­y­sis we only look at our per­for­mance and our mis­takes, we don’t think about the op­po­nent.

“We only con­cen­trate on what we’ve done well and what we’ve done less well and then we have to im­prove for the next game. We are cer­tainly go­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

PRIDE AT STAKE: Simon Church, of Wales, above, wants to score against Tal Ben Haim’s Is­rael

BOOST: Simon Church scores in the easy 3-0 win at Black­pool and Tal Ben Haim gets stuck in against Nor­wich’s Cameron Jerome

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