Israel coach Eli Gutman lived up to his word and recalled Yossi Benayoun to the
national team squad on Thursday ahead of next week’s friendly match against
After almost 14 consecutive years with the blue-and-white, the
32- year-old Benayoun was dropped from the squad for last month’s 2014 World Cup
qualifiers against Luxembourg as Gutman decided to only call up players who
appear regularly for their club sides.
Israel had little trouble managing
without its long-time captain against Luxembourg, winning 6-0 on the road and
3-0 at home to move up to second place in Group F with seven points from four
Nevertheless, Gutman kept his promise and brought Benayoun back
into the fold after the midfielder started in each of West Ham’s last three
matches, playing 90 minutes in two of them, including an impressive performance
against Manchester City last Saturday.
Assuming Benayoun plays against
Belarus at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem next Wednesday he will close to within
three appearances of equaling Arik Benado’s record of 94.
Benayoun’s return, Gutman made only two more changes to the squad summoned for
the matches against Luxembourg.
The injured Maor Melikson and Gili Vermut
were left out, with Celtic’s Biram Kiyal and Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Omer Damari
returning in their place.
Premier League leader Maccabi Tel Aviv was once
more the club with the most players in the squad.
Gutman called up five
players from the yellow-and-blue: Eitan Tibi, Yoav Ziv, Maharan Radi, Gal
Alberman and striker Eliran Atar, who has scored nine goals in the first eight
league games of the season, more than five of the league’s 14 teams have managed