(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After facing Mexico at Azteca Stadium late Wednesday night, the national team is set to return to Houston, Texas, to prepare for its friendly with Honduras at the BBVA Stadium on Sunday night.
Prior to leaving for Mexico on Tuesday, the national team met with dozens of Israel supporters in Houston.
Hapoel Beersheba star and member of the national team Maor Buzgalo shared a picture on his official Facebook page which said, “I am proud to see the amount of people who came to see us in Houston.”
Thousands of Israeli supporters are expected to flood BBVA Stadium on Sunday night and Israel coach Eli Gutman is thrilled.
The Evelyn Rubinstein Jewish Community Center in Houston is expected to bring hundreds of fans to the match and several other Jewish communities in the area are expected to attend as well.
After defeating Honduras 2-0 in front of a pro-Israel crowd in New York City last summer, Gutman hopes his national squad can impress all the fans coming to support Israel once again.
“First of all, we want them to be proud of us,” Gutman told The Jerusalem Post
“We want the fans to enjoy the type of football we play and we want to get a good result.
“For us the Israel supporters mean everything.”
When the friendlies are over and the national team returns home, Gutman hopes to have learned more about his players ahead of the upcoming campaign.
“Every player has the chance to show me the quality in their play, professionalism towards others and positive attitude in the dressing room,” he said.
“I can tell you this, every player on the roster now, wants to be called to the squad for the match on September 9 when we play Belgium in front of 30,000 Israeli supporters in Teddy Stadium, and they all now have a chance to prove they should be there.”
After failing to reach the 2014 World Cup, the national team will now attempt to qualify for the 2016 European Championships, which will be held in France.
Israel’s first match in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign will be against the up-and-coming Belgium.
Belgium’s roster includes Chelsea star Eden Hazard, Atletico Madrid shot stopper Thibaut Courtois and Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj.
Although many Israelis believe the national team cannot compete with Belgium, Gutman feels it is possible to secure three points, but says the team must play perfect football.
“We need to view each European qualification match as a cup game,” Gutman declared.
“If we play Belgium 10 times, they would win nine games, but we believe that we could win one of those games and we want that one game to be when we play them.”