Eli Gutman 311.
(photo credit: (Asaf Kliger))
New Israel coach Eli Gutman was given a crash course on the state of the
national team on Wednesday night courtesy of a 3- 2 friendly defeat to Ukraine
in Petah Tikva.
The miss-timed passes and shambolic defending were all
there, as was the blue-and-white’s potentially lethal attack.
this will be new to Gutman, but Wednesday’s performance will act as a stark
reminder of the magnitude of the task he faces if he’s to realize his dream of
leading Israel to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The wet and windy
conditions in Petah Tikva were far from ideal, but the wintry weather should be
no excuse for Israel’s chronic failings.
Ukraine held a comfortable 2-0
lead at the break, with Israel gifting the visitors both goals.
Gusev scored from the penalty spot in the 17th minute after Rami Gershon
needlessly fouled Andriy Yarmolenko in the box before right-back Yuval Spungin
helped set up Ukraine’s second netted by Yevhen Konoplyanka on the brink of
Israel was far more dangerous after the introduction of
striking duo Tomer Hemed and Ben Sahar following the break, with the former
scoring from the penalty spot 10 minutes into the second half.
just six minutes later, Yarmolenko restored Ukraine’s two-goal cushion and as
good as Sahar’s finish was in the 63rd, it is Israel’s disastrous defending that
will be remembered from Wednesday’s game.
“I will be sleeping with the
disc of this match for a long time to try and learn from our mistakes,” Gutman
said. “We didn’t start the match well and couldn’t break the Ukrainians
pressure, committing mistakes on defense.
“However, we were a different
team in the second half. Some teams would have fallen apart at 3-1, but we
maintained our discipline and weren’t far from equalizing.”
Gutman has at
least got plenty of time to prepare a plan for a better future with the
blue-and-white not getting down to real business until September 7 when it
visits Azerbaijan in its first 2014 World Cup qualifier.
“I’m sure we
will improve,” said Gutman, whose team visits Germany in its next friendly match
on June 1.
“We have a two-week training camp in May and will play more
friendlies before we begin our campaign.”
The 7,000 brave souls which
came out to see the Gutman era get underway despite the stormy weather almost
had something to cheer about in the fifth minute when Gershon sent a header just
However, it soon became apparent that the co-host of Euro 2012
could pick apart the Israel defense at will and the visitors took the lead in
the 17th minute through Gusev’s penalty after Yarmolenko was brought down in the
box by Gershon.
Elyaniv Barda squandered a decent chance from the edge of
the box two minutes later and Israel’s lax play in the first half was punished
moments before the break.
Spungin turned the ball over to Yarmolenko on
the edge of the area and the Ukrainian sent through Konoplyanka, who made no
mistake in front of Dudu Aouate.
Gutman’s halftime substitutions
revitalized the blue-and-white and Hemed got the hosts back into the game from
the penalty spot in the 55th minute after Vitaliy Mandziuk handled the ball in
the box. However, a well-worked team move saw Yarmolenko slot in Ukraine’s third
six minutes later and Israel never really came close to equalizing despite
having half an hour to do so after Sahar’s excellent strike in the
“We didn’t start the match well and unfortunately we made mistakes,
but that is part of the game,” captain Yossi Benayoun said. “We looked much
better in the second half and we play these friendly matches so we can learn
from our mistakes and improve.
“We have talented players in the squad and
we will slowly understand Eli’s system.
We have only worked together for
two days and that is not enough time to learn the system.”