Israel coach Eli gutman .
(photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)
A euphoric mood continued to engulf the Israel national team on Monday following the remarkable 3-0 shutout of Bosnia- Herzegovina in Euro 2016 qualification.
The blue-and-white moved to the top of Group B with a maximum nine points from three matches on Sunday, opening a qualifying campaign with three consecutive wins for the first time since joining UEFA 22 years ago.
Israel hadn’t beaten a quality rival for qualification in a meaningful encounter since the 5-0 thrashing of Austria in 1999.
But everything fell into place for the blue-and-white at Sammy Ofer Stadium on Sunday, with Gili Vermut (36), Omer Damari (45) and Eran Zahavi (70) scoring the goals that ensured the national team will be ideally placed when the qualifiers resume next March.
“These aren’t just regular guys,” gushed Israel coach Eli Gutman. “I take my hat off to them and I’m proud to be their coach. It is a shame our next match isn’t in two-three weeks’ time. We have to take a pause now and see in what state we will receive the players in March.”
Israel hosts Wales in its next qualifier on March 28 before welcoming Belgium to Teddy Stadium three days later to complete the first half of its campaign.
Wales currently sits in second place in the group, eking out a 0-0 draw at Belgium on Sunday to maintain its unbeaten start to the campaign, moving to eight points from four matches.
“The Israel match will be huge – but if we realistically want to qualify then every game is massive, like a final,” said Wales superstar Gareth Bale. “We move on to the next camp and we’ll be aiming to get the three points.
“Belgium is still the team to beat for sure. They’re a fantastic team with fantastic players. It was very difficult out there. But we showed what a great team we are too. In previous years we definitely would have caved in but we showed what we are made of.”
With over four months to go until the national team plays Wales, there is plenty of time to continue and celebrate Sunday’s triumph.
Nevertheless, Gutman looks to already be focused on the next qualifier as he aims to build on the win over Bosnia and guide Israel to a first major tournament since 1970.
“Nothing is over yet, and the players know that,” he said. “This is a tough group. We recorded a nice win, but there is still a long way to go.”