Taleb Tawatha soccer 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger and Adi Avishai)
Under-21 national team coach Guy Luzon revealed on Thursday his 23-man squad for
next month’s European Championship to be held in Israel.
The most notable
absentee is Gai Assulin, who plays for Racing Santander of the Spanish second
division, with Ben Butbul, Ahmed Abed and the injured Sari Falach also all
falling by the wayside in the final cut.
“This is a difficult day for
me,” said Luzon. “Besides being talented players they also have amazing
personalities and are part of our national team family.”
includes players with senior international experience of the likes of Taleb
Tawatha and Eyal Golasa, with Maccabi Haifa leading all teams with three
With Assulin missing out, Omri Altman, who is part of
English Premier League club Fulham’s under-21 squad, is the only player on the
roster who doesn’t ply his trade for an Israeli club.
dreams to be part of a tournament like this,” Luzon said. “If a player can’t
cope with the pressure I suggest he should quit. This is going to be a difficult
tournament for us because unfortunately Israel is not in the top-tier of
European soccer. If we fail to succeed it will be because the other teams are
stronger than us and not because we are weak.”
Israel will face Norway in
the tournament opener in Netanya on June 5 before playing Italy at Bloomfield
Stadium three days later and completing its Group A games versus England at
Teddy Stadium on June 11.
Group B will be contested between defending
champion Spain, Germany, Netherlands and Russia.
The top two teams from
each group will advance to the semifinals to be played on June 15, with the
final to take place at Teddy on June 18.