Dror Kashtan 224.88.
(photo credit: )
Israel coach Dror Kashtan said Tuesday it's not fair to judge him on the basis of a single qualifying campaign. The national team lost any chance of reaching Euro 2008 on Saturday night after losing 1-0 to Croatia.
It faces Belarus in a friendly match at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Wednesday. Entry will be free of charge.
"We failed to qualify for the European Championships, but we have collected 17 points and scored 17 goals and still have two home matches left," Kashtan said at a press conference in Ramat Gan. "In the 2004 campaign the team finished third in a five-team group, losing three matches and drawing with Cyprus and Malta. Israeli soccer hasn't reached a big tournament in 37 years. We must reform the side and not just plan for the near future."
Kashtan will be looking to build on the encouraging performances by debutants Eyal Meshumar, Moshe Ohayon and Tamir Cohen against Croatia and will likely field a young lineup on Wednesday.
"We saw a change in the team against Croatia," he said. "Our players were young, hungry and ambitious. This friendly match gives me a chance to take a look at more players."
Israel will be without captain Yossi Benayoun, who returned to Liverpool on Saturday.
The national team lost 2-1 to Belarus less than two months ago in a friendly in Minsk. Roman Vasilyuk gave Belarus the lead in the ninth minute of the match. Shimon Gershon equalized in the 29th minute, but Maksim Romashchenko scored the winner in injury time.
Belarus lost 1-0 to Luxembourg on Saturday. It is in sixth place in its Euro 2008 qualifying group, with two wins, one draw and seven losses.
Most of the Belarus squad members play for clubs in former Soviet Union states. The star of the team is Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb.
"Israel is an excellent team," Hleb said at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday. "I think we were lucky in Minsk. Israel is a better team and will be the favorite on Wednesday."
Wednesday's match will be Israel's last before its final two Euro 2008 qualifiers against Russia and Macedonia on November 17 and 21, respectively.
On TV: Israel vs Belarus (live at 8:50 p.m. on Channel 10).