Blue-and-white gets Scotland, Albania in new UEFA tourney

The four-tier tournament has been introduced by UEFA to replace international friendlies.

January 25, 2018 06:42
1 minute read.
Blue-and-white gets Scotland, Albania in new UEFA tourney

Israeli players will be hoping they will have plenty to celebrate in UEFA’s new Nations League after being drawn yesterday to play Scotland and Albania. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Israel was drawn on Wednesday with Scotland and Albania in Group Four of League C of the UEFA Nations League, a new league competition for national teams.

The four-tier tournament has been introduced by UEFA to replace international friendlies.

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UEFA, concerned that international soccer is losing popularity to the club game, has said that the league will provide the top nations with more competitive matches against each other, as well as afford smaller nations another chance to qualify for the European Championships.

However, critics say the competition is too complex, adds to an already overcrowded calendar and, because it provides an additional path to major tournaments, makes it too easy for top teams to qualify.

Although the new competition is played in addition to the European Championship qualifying competition, which will go ahead as usual, it provides a back door to Euro 2020, with one team from each league earning a place at UEFA’s flagship tournament.

In each league, the four group winners enter a playoff system, consisting of two semifinals and a final. The ultimate winner will qualify for Euro 2020.

If a group winner has qualified for Euro 2020 via the regular qualifying competition, its place in the playoffs is taken by the nextbest ranked team in its league.

The competition gets under way in September, with Euro 2020 qualifying to start in March 2019.

Israel is still without a head coach after Elisha Levy’s contract wasn’t renewed following a disappointing 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. The blueand- white finished Group G in fourth place, losing five of its final six games.

The Israel Football Association announced on Wednesday that the national team’s next game will be a friendly against Romania to be played in Netanya on March 24. It is still unknown whether the IFA will name a new coach by then, with the likes of Bnei Yehuda coach Yossi Abuksis and Hapoel Haifa’s Nir Klinger being mentioned as potential candidates.

In League A, Germany was drawn with France and the Netherlands, Italy will face European champion Portugal and Poland, Spain takes on England and Croatia and Belgium meets Switzerland and Iceland.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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