Lior Rafaelov 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel will enter its first 2014 World Cup qualifier next month in worrying form
after drawing 1-1 with Hungary in Budapest in its final tune-up match on
The national team lost its three previous friendly
matches under the guidance of coach Eli Gutman, falling 3-2 to Ukraine in
February and dropping to a 2-1 setback to the Czech Republic in May before being
beaten 2-0 by Germany six days later.
The blue-and-white finally snapped
the losing streak in Budapest, but its goal was completely coincidental and its
performance was desperately poor once more.
The Hungarians were far from
convincing, but Balazs Dzsudzsak gave the hosts a deserved lead in the 51st
minute before substitute Tomer Hemed spared Israel’s blushes with the equalizer
10 minutes from time.
Despite its struggles, the recent friendlies will
mean little if Israel goes on to beat Azerbaijan on September 7 to embark on a
successful qualifying campaign. However, the early signs from Gutman’s tenure
have not been encouraging to say the least.
The blue-and-white lacked any
sort of urgency on the offensive end in Budapest and displayed its traditional
vulnerability on defense to concede a needless goal.
An eventless first
half ended in a fitting goalless deadlock, but Israel paid the price for its
poor play six minutes after the break.
Kristian Nemeth’s initial shot hit
the post but Elad Gabay completely fluffed his clearance, allowing Dzsudzsak to
slot in the opener beyond a helpless Dudu Aouate.
Israel failed to muster
a response until Hemed came on for Itay Shechter, whose loan move to Swansea
City of the English Premier League was finalized earlier in the
Hemed squandered a chance in the 69th minute moments after entering
from the substitutes’ bench, but netted the equalizer 11 minutes later after Dan
Mori’s header was only weakly blocked by ‘keeper Adam Bogdan.