(photo credit: Asaf Kilger)
A new air of optimism has swept through the Israel squad since Saturday night,
but the 2- 1 victory over Latvia in Euro 2012 qualification will be of little
significance should the national team fail to defeat Georgia at Bloomfield
Stadium on Tuesday.
Biram Kiyal’s 81st minute header gave Israel an
important win against the Latvians, leaving the blue-and-white in fourth place
in the standings, but just four points back of first-placed Greece after Georgia
complicated Group F with a surprising 1-0 victory over favorite Croatia on
Georgia enters Tuesday’s encounter in excellent position after
also managing a draw in Greece, but Israel coach Luis Fernandez knows that
anything short of three points will mean the national team’s already slim hopes
of reaching the European Championships will be as good as over.
aren’t far from the top two in the group, but to challenge for a place in Euro
2012 we will have to beat Georgia,” the Frenchman said. “Winning doesn’t
necessarily mean taking chances. It means playing smart soccer and this team can
Fernandez claimed on Saturday that Israel will be the underdog
against Georgia at Bloomfield, and reiterated that stance on
“Georgia recorded an amazing result on Saturday and I always
thought that we would face a difficult match against them,” said Fernandez, who
added that Israel’s 0-0 draw in the Georgian capital Tbilisi in September was
underrated by critics.
“Some people think that Georgia is a weak team,
but after watching their match against Croatia I think that they might be the
best team in the group. A side that draws in Greece and beats Croatia has to be
a good team. They are unbeaten in their last 10 matches, which proves that they
have a lot of qualities.
“They are not Brazil, but they have an effective
system and know how to defend and how to attack. They never give
Fernandez spent much of Monday’s press conference attacking the
media, particularly one story published in Monday’s Yediot Ahronot, which
claimed that defender Dekel Keinan had criticized the Frenchman for not playing
him on Saturday.
“You are trying to hurt the team,” Fernandez told the
journalists before Keinan entered the room to make a surprise
“There are people who are trying to hurt me,” Keinan
“Anyone who knows me knows that I would never say such things.
Whoever writes these types of articles is looking to hurt the team. This is an
ugly attempt to try and create antagonism towards the team.”
said that he will only choose his starting 11 on Tuesday, but he is expected to
make several changes from the team that beat Latvia.
One player who will
certainly not be in action is the injured Omer Damari, while Maor Buzaglo, Danny
Bondarv, Almog Cohen and Keinan are all in the frame for a place in the starting
“We knew we would have to take six points from these two qualifiers,
and after completing half the job we now have to beat Georgia,” said goalkeeper
Dudu Aouate, who will once more captain the side in the absence of Yossi
Benayoun, who will begin the match on the bench. “This will be a tougher match
than Saturday, but we have to win it if we want to remain in contention to reach