Guy Luzon 370.
(photo credit: Uzi Gal)
On paper, Israel still has a chance of reaching the European Under-21
However, even coach Guy Luzon admitted that the
blue-and-white’s final Group A match versus England at Teddy Stadium on Tuesday
is far more about pride than it is about points.
After conceding a
stoppage-time equalizer to draw 2-2 with Norway in its opener, Israel’s campaign
fell to pieces with a 4-0 trouncing by Italy in its second group
Israel can still leapfrog Norway into second-place in the group
and advance to the semis, but it would need a combination of a victory over
England, a Norway loss to Italy and a six-goal swing in its favor.
things currently stand Norway and Italy are going to advance to the semis and
they deserve to,” Luzon said on Monday. “We will do our best regardless of our
chances of advancing, but we are not thinking about progressing to the next
stage at the moment.”
After criticizing the fans for jeering the team
during the defeat to Italy at Bloomfield Stadium on Saturday, Luzon insisted on
Monday that the vast majority of supporters were “amazing” and he’s certain that
will also be the case in Jerusalem.
“Nothing could be better than to end
the tournament in Jerusalem,” said Luzon, who will join Belgian club Standard
Liege after the tournament. “I’m ending three years as the Under-21’s coach and
I’m really sad.”
England has already lost all hope of qualifying for the
last four after losing both its matches against Italy and Norway, but Luzon is
still expecting a stern test on Tuesday.
“A match against England is
never easy,” Luzon said. “We are in the third tier of European soccer and not
the first tier like the other teams in the tournament and I said that even
before the matches began. I didn’t create high expectations.
I’m not disappointed. A draw against Norway is normal for Israel and against
Italy I’m satisfied with how we played until we lost a player to a red card. We
will give our best against England.”
England coach Stuart Pearce will
soon be out of contract and his future with the team remains uncertain. Pearce
said he hopes to remain in charge of the Under- 21 side and a failure to defeat
Israel on Tuesday will surely not help his chances.
“I can guarantee that
when we take to the field against Israel we will do everything we can to win the
match,” he said after the 3-1 loss to Norway. “We’ve got out of the tournament
so far what we deserved, which isn’t much. We have to make sure as a group that
we try and beat Israel.
“We’re disappointed. We’re out of the
competition,” Pearce added.“I don’t think the players have done themselves
credit to be honest with you, individually and collectively. We have got nothing
out of this tournament so far and now we have to concentrate on doing things
properly for the tournament’s sake and beat Israel.”