After losing in all three of its friendly matches since new coach Eli Gutman
took charge last December, Israel will be hoping for a confidence boosting
performance when it faces Hungary in Budapest on Wednesday night in its final
warm-up encounter before it gets its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign underway
Israel lost its first match under Gutman in February, falling
3-2 to Ukraine, and dropped to a 2- 1 setback to the Czech Republic in May
before being beaten 2-0 by Germany six days later.
“It is important for
us to stop the losing streak,” said Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.
want to play well before the important match against Azerbaijan and we are
confident in our abilities.
“We want the fans in Israel to be proud of
Israel’s displays under Gutman’s stewardship have been erratic at
best, but the coach understands that he will be judged only according to the
team’s results in its qualifying campaign, starting with the road match at
Azerbaijan on September 7.
However, with Wednesday’s match being the
dress rehearsal for Israel’s qualifying opener in three-and-a-half weeks, Gutman
is expected to test out the starting lineup he currently plans to use in
Azerbaijan and will be looking for a significant improvement from the side’s
Captain Yossi Benayoun was conspicuously missing from
the starting lineup in training ahead of the match, but that may be just because
Gutman wanted to try out different players.
Gutman’s biggest dilemma will
be who to play in the center of defense where he will be looking for a solid
combination in the absence of Tal Ben-Haim, who is suspended from the match
New Maccabi Tel Aviv signing Eitan Tibi seems to be
guaranteed one of the spots in the heart of the defense, with Dan Mori and Shir
Tzedek battling for the place alongside him.
Gutman will also need to
determine if he plans to face Azerbaijan with two strikers or one, with either
Omer Damari to start up front beside Itay Shechter or Gili Vermut to bolster
Israel’s attacking options from the midfield which will include Lior Rafaelov
and Maor Melikson.