(photo credit: nir keidar)
Israel will begin its preparations for its Euro 2012 qualifying opener against
Malta on Sunday after new coach Luis Fernandez named a 23-man squad for
Thursday’s encounter at National Stadium in Ramat Gan and next Tuesday’s match
The biggest surprise in Fernandez’s announcement was his
decision to call up just five defenders on Friday.
“I’ve been working on
the squad for two months and I’m confident we can win with these players,” said
the Frenchman, who will be guiding Israel for the first time in an official
match on Thursday.
“These matches will not be easy, but we must begin
with a win. We have a lot of talent in the team and our goal is to beat Malta
and only then turn our attention to Georgia.
“I’m not going to play with
eight defenders. I want to play attacking soccer and score goals. I want a
strong defense, creative midfield and an attack which can find the back of the
Even without the ailing Roberto Colautti, Elyaniv Barda, Barak
Itzhaki and Bibras Natcho, Fernandez has total faith in his squad.
really believe in these players,” he said. “I really want to reach the European
Championships and so do they.”
Full squad: Goalkeepers: Dudu Aouate (RCD
Mallorca), Ohad Levita (RKC Waalwijk), Dudu Goresh (Hapoel
Defenders: Dekel Keinan (Blackpool), Tal Ben-Haim (West Ham), Yoav
Ziv (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Dedi Ben-Dayan, Danny Bondarv (Hapoel Tel
Midfielders: Yossi Benayoun (Chelsea), Avihai Yadin, Gili Vermut,
Eran Zehavi (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Lior Rafaelov, Eyal Golasa (Maccabi Haifa), Almog
Cohen (Nuremburg), Tamir Cohen (Bolton), Biram Kiyal (Celtic), Maor Melikson
Forwards: Itai Shechter, Ben Sahar (Hapoel Tel Aviv),
Shlomi Arbeitman (Gent), Eliran Atar, Yuval Avidor (Maccabi Tel Aviv).