Israel doesn’t play its next 2014 World Cup qualifier for another four months,
but coach Eli Gutman still believes Wednesday night’s friendly against Belarus
at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem will provide the national team with the platform
to prepare for March’s showdown with Portugal.
Israel moved up to second
place in Group F with seven points from four matches with two victories over
Luxembourg last month, winning 6-0 on the road and 3-0 at home.
only made three changes to the squad ahead of Belarus, but Yossi Benayoun’s
return to the team has been put on hold after he was injured in West Ham’s
Premier League match on Sunday.
He joined Maor Melikson and Gili Vermut
on the injury list, with Celtic’s Biram Kiyal and Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Omer Damari
returning in their place.
Belarus has won one while losing three of its
four qualifiers in Group I, but two of its defeats did come against powerhouses
Spain and France and Gutman is expecting a stern test at Teddy.
learned that in international matches there are very few similarities between
any two games,” Gutman said on Tuesday.
“As a national team coach you
never know what squad you will have for your next match, but we are entering
this friendly with a game-plan which we hope to use against
Elsewhere, Neymar and Radamel Falcao, two of the world’s most
prolific and sought-after strikers, come face-to-face when Brazil meet Colombia
in the most enticing of around 50 friendly internationals being played on
Spain and Portugal both face marathon trips with the world and
European champions traveling to Panama and their Iberian neighbors lured to
There are high-profile games between familiar European
rivals, such as Netherlands-Germany, Italy-France and Sweden- England, and more
exotic encounters such as the clash between Albania and Cameroon in
Steven Gerrard is in line to make his 100th appearance for
England while in other games, Franco Di Santo could make his international debut
as Argentina and Lionel Messi visit Saudi Arabia while Russia meet the United
States for the first time in 12 years.