Soccer: Israel, Honduras set for friendly in NY

National team to face Central Americans Wednesday at Met's Citi Field expecting to bring in thousands of Jewish attendees.

May 28, 2013 23:40
1 minute read.
Israel National team coach Eli Gutman

Israel coach Eli Gutman 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

The Israel national team will leave for New York on Wednesday as it continues it preparations for the friendly match against Honduras to be played on Sunday in Citi Field, the stadium of the MLB’s New York Mets.

Israel, which is currently in second place in Group F of 2014 World Cup qualifying, doesn’t play its next qualifier until September 6 when it hosts Azerbaijan.

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However, coach Eli Gutman believes Sunday’s encounter is far from meaningless.

“This is a significant match and not just from a professional standpoint,” said Gutman.

“Thousands of Jews will be coming to the match and we will do our best to represent the country with honor.”

The New York region is home to the largest Jewish and Honduran populations outside of Israel and Honduras. More than 1.5 million Jews reside in New York City, Long Island and Westchester, tens of thousands of them Israeli, while almost 100,000 Hondurans live in the NY Metro area.

Honduras, which qualified for the 2010 World Cup, is led by coach Luis Fernando Suárez.

Honduras lost to Panama 2-0 in its most recent World Cup qualifier on March 26 in Panama City and hosts Costa Rica five days after playing Israel.

The blue-and-white left for New York without several key players.

Eden Ben-Basat, Bibras Natcho, Eliran Atar, Biram Kiyal, Maharan Radi, Dudu Aouate and Tomer Hemed – who could miss up to eight months after injuring his Achilles heal on Sunday – were all left off for various reasons.

“The players know exactly what I demand of them and they are all required to be as ready as possible,” said Gutman.

“We don’t want to disgrace the country. The players will return with their heads held high.”

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