Fernandez picks ‘B’ squad for Malta qualifier

Fiery Frenchman Luis Fernandez lashed out at his critics once again on Sunday as he named what is likely to be his final squad as Israel coach.

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September 26, 2011 00:02
2 minute read.
Luis Fernandez

Luis Fernandez311. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Fiery Frenchman Luis Fernandez lashed out at his critics once again on Sunday as he named what is likely to be his final squad as Israel coach.

Fernandez named a 21-man squad for Israel’s final Euro 2012 qualifier at Malta on October 11 and took advantage of the occasion to launch yet another attack on local media.

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“I’ve tried to act like a professional since I’ve arrived, but there are journalists who threaten players on the day of a match,” Fernandez said in a press conference at Israel Football Association headquarters at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.

“You demand of the players to be role models, but some of you aren’t role models. A player showed me a threatening SMS a journalist had sent him. Some of you betray the players. You didn’t respect me enough throughout the campaign.

“If Israel hasn’t reached a major tournament in 40 years there most be a reason for that. The players want to succeed, but maybe we need to instill more discipline. We live in this country, with its culture, and we need to respect it.”

Fernandez is set to leave the blue-andwhite when his contract runs out following the end of Israel’s European Championship qualifying campaign after the team came up well short of a top-two finish in Group F.

Israel lost any chance of advancing after falling to both Greece and Croatia earlier this month and with its match against Malta essentially meaningless, it was no surprise Fernandez left Arsenal’s Yossi Benayoun out of the squad.

The midfielder is currently recovering from a side strain sustained in last week’s 3-1 League Cup victory over Shrewsbury Town, and although he should be fit in time for the Malta match, Fernandez decided to give other players a chance.

The suspended Tal Ben-Haim, Eran Zahavi and Omri Ben-Harush were also all left out, with Itai Shechter not being called up due to his brother’s wedding.

Wisla Krakow midfielder Maor Melikson also asked not to be named to the squad following last week’s saga in which he first announced he would like to play for the Poland national team before changing his mind and declaring that, for the moment, he does not want to play for either Israel or Poland.

“We have spoken to Melikson and he has asked for some time to think things over,” Fernandez said. “If a player isn’t fully committed to the team I’m not interested in him.”


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