Is­rael eyes World Cup slot af­ter get­ting the luck of the draw

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT -

Un­der-21 team, which reached the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship fi­nals for the first time last sum­mer, to­gether with top class play­ers like Liver­pool’s Yossi Be­nay­oun and Chelsea’s Tal Ben Haim, the feel­ing is that there can be no ex­cuses for Kash­tan if Is­rael does not at least clinch sec­ond place in this group.

Is­rael’s goal­keeper Dudu Awat, who many con­sider was the team’s most out­stand­ing player in the Euro 2008 qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign, said: “We al­ways talk about qual­i­fy­ing but never do it. Now is the time to do the busi­ness. I do not want to take our op­po­nents lightly but if we go about it cor­rectly we can fi­nally qual­ify.”

Uefa have com­mended the Is­rael FA’s de­ci­sion not to al­low na­tional striker Omer Golan to re­ceive a Mercedes as a gift from Manch­ester bookie Fred Done for scor­ing Is­rael’s win­ning goal against Rus­sia ear­lier this month.

Europe’s gov­ern­ing body em­pha­sised that any player who ac­cepts a gift from a third party will be deemed guilty of re­ceiv­ing a bribe. This rul­ing was made in re­sponse to a Rus­sian bil­lion­aire who was of­fer­ing four Mercedes to the best Croa­t­ian play­ers if they beat Eng­land, prior to their team’s 3-2 vic­tory over the Three Li­ons last week.

But the 25-year-old Is­raeli striker can take some con­so­la­tion from the of­fers he is now re­ceiv­ing.

Both An­der­lecht and Steaua Bucharest have bid £500,000 to buy the player when the trans­fer win­dow re­opens in Jan­uary. Golan’s agent Ro- nen Katzav said that there has been in­ter­est from sev­eral Pre­mier League clubs and the player would pre­fer to move to Eng­land.

Even a let­ter of thanks from FA chair­man Ge­off Thompson re­ceived by his Is­raeli coun­ter­part Avi Lu­zon ex­press­ing Eng­land’s grat­i­tude for Is­rael’s vic­tory over Rus­sia could not as­suage the feel­ing that Eng­land had be­trayed Is­rael by los­ing to Croa­tia.

It was as if Is­rael had care­fully se­lected an ex­pen­sive gift for a pow­er­ful ac­quain­tance and seen the present un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously dumped in the garbage. Ye­diot Ahronot, Is­rael’s largest news­pa­per, was scathing. “Europe’s Wretches,” screamed the head­line. “McClaren’s losers couldn’t take ad­van­tage of Is­rael’s gift.”

“What a dis­grace,” screamed the head­line on the front page of Maariv, Is­rael sec­ond largest cir­cu­la­tion daily news­pa­per, be­neath a pic­ture of Steven Ger­rard with a bowed head. “Barda and Golan did most of the work for them on Satur­day but McClaren’s mis­er­able team couldn’t even get a point against Croa­tia.”

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