Kash­tan will take a win at any price

The Jewish Chronicle - - Sport - BY SI­MON GRIVER

IS­RAEL man­ager Dror Kash­tan sees com­pla­cency as the big­gest prob­lem as the na­tional team pre­pares for two World Cup 2010 qual­i­fiers in the space of four days.

His team take on Lux­em­bourg away to­mor­row, fol­lowed by Latvia on Wed­nes­day. But prepa­ra­tions were ham­pered by Yom Kip­pur as the play­ers, who were given Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon and Thurs­day off, will clear- ly not be in peak con­di­tion. De­spite two un­con­vinc­ing per­for­mances last month, Is­rael's cam­paign got off to a very promis­ing start.

The Blues pulled back two goals in the fi­nal 20 min­utes to draw against Switzer­land and came from be­hind to beat Moldova 2-1 in Kish­nev. But the most sig­nif­i­cant re­sult in Septem­ber was Switzer­land's shock 2-1 home de­feat against Lux­em­bourg.

Lux­em­bourg's victory has made it clear that Is­rael can take noth­ing for granted. “Lux­em­bourg are a well or­gan­ised and dis­ci­plined team,” ob­served Kash­tan. “We can­not af­ford to take it easy. I will be happy with three points re­gard­less of the score. I'll be sat­is­fied with 1-0.”

Is­rael’s build-up to the games were boosted when they climbed to a bestever 16th in the FIFA rank­ings, two places be­low Eng­land.

An­other prob­lem fac­ing Kash­tan is the fact that most of his play­ers play­ing abroad are not fully match fit. The squad’s four Premier League stars man­aged only 10 min­utes be­tween them last week­end. Yossi Be­nay­oun came on for the clos­ing stages of Liver­pool's win at Manch­ester City while Tal Ben Haim re­mained on the bench.

Portsmouth’s Ben Sa­har, on loan from Chelsea, and Bolton’s Tamir Co­hen, have yet to fea­ture this sea­son. Sa­har has re­cov­ered from the knee in­jury he sus­tained in Moldova. Co­hen is sus­pended for the Lux­em­bourg match.

Is­rael's Un­der 21 team plays Italy in Ancona to­mor­row in the first leg of the play­offs for next sum­mer’s Euro 2009 Cham­pi­onships in Swe­den. The re­turn will be at Bloom­field Sta­dium on Wed­nes­day.

Premier League play­ers Di­dier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Kolo Toure and Em­manuel Eboue are sched­uled to be in Is­rael next month for the Ivory Coast’s in­ter­na­tional friendly at Ra­mat Gan on Novem­ber 19.

Sha­har Peer has been ruled out for the rest of the year due to ill­ness.

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