Bibras natcho's first match as Israel captain March 25, 2018.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Israel’s next coach likely watched Saturday’s 2-1 friendly defeat to Romania in Netanya with much interest, although he will only know in around a month that he was actually viewing the match as the next boss in waiting.
Israel was guided on Saturday by interim coach Alon Hazan, with the national team without a full-time coach since Elisha Levy’s contract wasn’t renewed last November following a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign.
Tomer Hemed gave the blue-and-white the lead in the 60th-minute, but Nicolae Stanciu equalized for the visitors four minutes later and Romania netted the winner eight minutes from time courtesy of George Tucudean.
Hazan decided to use the match versus Romania to hand players their first opportunity with the blue-and-white.
No less than 10 of the 22 players who were called up had never previously played for the national team, with six making their debuts on Saturday (Loai Taha, Dor Micha, Eran Levy, Diya Saba, Alon Turgeman and Hanan Maman).
“It is a shame we wasted the first half by playing poorly,” said Hazan, whose main job is guiding Israel’s under-19 national team. “We played better in the second half but unfortunately we couldn’t score a second goal. The players that came on at the break changed the game and I hope that the next coach will be able to take something from this match. Every coach has his own outlook and he will have decide what to do. I’m always disappointed when my team loses but I’m encouraged by the fact that we showed an improvement after the first half. I hope the players understand that only hard work will bring results and I think the future is bright.”
The outcome of the match is no where near as significant as the meeting to be held at Israel Football Association headquarters in Ramat Gan later this week.
The blue-and-white doesn’t open its next qualifying campaign for almost six months and following the national team’s recent dejecting campaigns, the IFA decided to set up a committee to examine the reasons behind the blue-and-white’s consistent failures.
Among its recommendations were that the next head coach should have experience guiding a team at an international level, which seems likely to give Hapoel Haifa’s Nir Klinger, who has coached Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League as well as in Cyprus, an edge over Bnei Yehuda coach Yossi Abuksis, with the two believed to be the current favorites to replace Levy.
The IFA wants to appoint the next coach by May as it is planning on holding a training session for the squad at the end of the month, with the blue-and-white to also face Argentina in a friendly on June 9.
Israel’s next meaningful match doesn’t come until September 7 when it begins its UEFA Nations League Group Four League C campaign at Albania. The blue and- white will visit Northern Ireland in a friendly four days later, with the national side’s first home match against Scotland in the new competition to be held at Haifa Stadium on October 11. Israel hosts Albania in Beersheba on October 14, with the campaign to come to a close in Scotland on November 20.
Although the new competition is played in addition to the European Championship qualifiers, which start in March 2019, it provides a back door to Euro 2020, with one team from each league earning a place at UEFA’s flagship tournament.
In each league, the four group winners enter a playoff system, consisting of two semifinals and a final. The ultimate winner will qualify for Euro 2020.
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