Yossi Benayoun(left) and Coach Eli Gutman370.
(photo credit: IFA, Courtesy)
Israel coach Eli Gutman is set to hand several of his fringe players a rare
starting role when the national team faces Honduras in an international friendly
in Citi Field in New York on Sunday night.
The blue-and-white is
currently in second place in Group F of 2014 World Cup qualifying and doesn’t
play its next qualifier until September 6 when it hosts Azerbaijan, three days
before visiting Russia.
With key players Eden Ben-Basat, Bibras Natcho,
Biram Kiyal, Maharan Radi, Dudu Aouate and Tomer Hemed, who could miss up to
eight months after injuring his Achilles heal last week, all being left off the
squad for various reasons, the likes of Beitar Jerusalem goalkeeper Ariel Harush
and striker Itay Shechter are set to get their chance in the stadium that
usually serves as the home of the MLB’s New York Mets.
The New York
region is home to the largest Jewish and Honduran populations outside of Israel
More than 1.5 million Jews reside in New York City, Long
Island and Westchester, tens of thousands of them Israeli, while almost 100,000
Hondurans live in the NY Metro area.
The match will take place shortly
after the Celebrate Israel Parade along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
happened by coincidence,” Pierre Mevy Azaria, CEO of MCI Sport who is organizing
the match, told the local 5 towns Jewish Times.
“We decided almost one
year ago to meet our public in the United States.
Because of the growing
interest in soccer throughout the United States, we felt it was the right time
to bring a soccer match to New York. The game will be a good chance to show a
non-political side of life in Israel. This is something that is good for
Honduras, which qualified for the 2010 World Cup, is
guided by coach Luis Fernando Suárez and is led by the likes of Wilson Palacios
of Stoke City of the English Premier League and Roger Espinoza of Wigan
Athletic. Honduras lost 2-0 to Panama in its most recent World Cup qualifier on
March 26 in Panama City and hosts Costa Rica five days after playing
With Aouate remaining in Spain to play in RCD Mallorca’s final La
Liga match on Saturday and Danny Amos missing out through injury, Harush will be
given a chance to prove himself in goal.
“Harush has great potential that
should have already been realized,” said Gutman. “We still have Aouate, but
Harush will get his chance on Sunday and I trust him.”
that captain Yossi Benayoun will also play a part on Sunday, bringing him within
a single appearance of equaling Arik Benado’s national team record of
“It is very special for us to be playing in New York,” Benayoun said.
“We want to take whatever we can from this match because we face very important
qualifiers in September and October.
There will be a lot of people from
the Jewish community here and we are also committed to
On TV: Israel vs Honduras (live on
Sport5 at 12:30 a.m. Sunday night/Monday morning)