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Maccabi Haifa captain Yaniv Katan could not hide his excitement on Monday upon being back training with the Israel squad for the first time in nearly two years.
The 28-year-old was dropped from the squad by coach Dror Kashtan during Israel's 2008 European Championship qualifying campaign, and even though the Haifa forward was perhaps one of the standout players in the Premier League last season, the obstinate coach had refused to call him up to the squad since the national team's 3-0 loss to England at Wembley Stadium in September of 2007.
However, Katan's superb showings in Haifa's Champions League qualifiers left Kashtan with no real option but to recall the forward for Israel's upcoming 2010 World Cup qualifiers against Latvia on Saturday and Luxembourg the following Wednesday.
"This is a very emotional moment for me," said Katan. "I've been waiting for this. I'm happy to be back in the squad and I hope I can contribute to the team. The coach is the one who decides who will play and I will accept any decision he makes."
Katan also revealed that he spoke with Kashtan at length ahead of training on Monday.
"I'm a person who doesn't hide his feelings and I told Dror everything that was on my heart when we spoke," Katan said. "I'm happy this is all behind us. I always wanted to be part of the team and I'm happy to be here."