Eli Gutman 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Eli Gutman is confident he can guide Israel to the 2014 World Cup after
officially being named as the national soccer team’s new coach on Tuesday
The Israel Football Association secretariat unanimously voted in
favor of Gutman’s appointment, making him the 26th coach in the blue-and-white’s
Shortly afterwards, the 53-year-old held his first press
conference in his new position and revealed his plans for the upcoming World Cup
“We need to first and foremost play like a team,”
said Gutman, who thanked god before addressing professional matters. “We need to
be a team and not just a squad of players. Our dressing room must be ego free.
We will be a systematic side. That is the only way we will be able to close the
gap on teams like Portugal and Russia.”
Israel will face Portugal,
Russia, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in Group F, with only the
nine group winners to qualify directly to Brazil, while the eight best
runners-up will be drawn into four home-and-away ties to determine the other
However, despite the less than ideal draw and Israel’s
recent failures, Gutman believes the national team can reach the World
“I don’t believe in shortcuts,” a visibly emotional Gutman said. “I
have already been thinking like a national team coach for the past six months
and I believe in my ability. A coach that knows how to relay a tactical message
can do so even in the little time you have with the players when you guide a
“I aspire to reach the World Cup. We have good
players and we will work on our weaknesses. We must remain humble, but had I not
believed we were capable of qualifying for the World Cup I wouldn’t be
Gutman’s first match at the helm will be a friendly against Euro
2012 co-host Ukraine on February 29, with Israel to also face Germany in June
and Hungary in August before it gets its 2014 World Cup qualifiers underway with
a road match against Azerbaijan on September 7.
Despite the fact that he
has already begun working, Gutman will only be joined by his yet-to-be-named
assistant in June due to the IFA’s wish to cut expenses.
“Never has there
been such a consensus around the appointment of a national team coach,” IFA
chairman Avi Luzon said. “He is a real pro and I will make sure Eli and his
staff are given all they need to succeed. I believe Eli will be able to instill
the players and the fans with the belief that we can qualify.”
been on a break from coaching since guiding Hapoel Tel Aviv to the State Cup at
the end of last season.
He also led Hapoel to a Premier League and State
Cup double in 2009/10 and to the Champions League group stage last
Gutman first rose to prominence when he guided Hapoel Beersheba
to the cup in 1997 and has been regarded as one of the country’s best coaches
for over a decade since leading Hapoel Haifa to its one and only league
championship in 1998/99.