Israel in deep trouble after two games
Disheartening 4-0 home loss to Russia puts blue-and-white World Cup chances on life support.
YOSSI BENAYOUN Photo: Asaf Kliger
With its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign just five days old, Israel can
already turn its attention to the Euro 2016 qualifiers after being humbled 4-0
by Russia at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Tuesday night.
result, Israel’s heaviest defeat since losing 5-0 to Denmark 13 years ago,
capped a miserable first two qualifiers in which the blue-and-white collected
just a single point, drawing 1-1 in its opener at Azerbaijan on
The national team has still got eight more qualifiers to play in
Group F, but you would have to be living on Mars or completely out of your mind
to think that there is any chance the blue-and-white can reach the World Cup in
Brazil after the last week.
Israel didn’t even deserve the one point it
picked up so far, looking desperately disjointed and completely clueless in both
Baku and Ramat Gan.
A new air of optimism engulfed the national team
following the appointment of Eli Gutman as coach at the start of the
But his tenure to date has been utterly dejecting, with the team
drawing one and losing three of its friendly matches before the disappointments
of recent days.
The sorriest part of all is that there seems to be little
hope for the future.
The expectations may have been unrealistic to start
with, but Israel’s play has been so poor that even next month’s two qualifiers
against Luxembourg over five days are beginning to seem like a daunting
“We played a wonderful opponent,” Gutman said. “The players did
their best, but Russia is a better team than us, although 4-0 is a harsh
“We were ready for both the matches, but the criticism was
correct. My influence on the team is still not apparent. There are no bright
spots from this match.”
The encounter was over almost before it
A foul by Tal Ben-Haim, who hasn’t had a team since the end of
last season, gifted the visitors a free kick on the edge of the area in the
sixth minute and Alexander Kerzhakov stepped up to slot the ball beyond a
helpless Dudu Aouate.
Israel failed to muster any sort of reply and the
Russians doubled their advantage after 18 minutes.
Ben-Haim and Yoav Ziv
crashed into each other in the center of the box in an attempt to clear the
danger and Alexander Kokorin stepped up to tuck in the the ball into the back of
Gutman made a double substitution at halftime, but Russia still
scored at will, with Kerzhakov heading in his second goal of the night in the
64th minute from a superb cross by Viktor Fayzulin.
The humiliation was
completed in the 77th minute when Fayzulin got in on the act, queuing a mass
exodus by the 30,000 brave souls who came to Ramat Gan with so many hopes only
to once more return home heartbroken by their hapless national team.