(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
In-form strikers Eliran Atar and Toto Tamuz were left off of the Israel squad
once more on Thursday, when coach Luis Fernandez named his 25- man roster for
the national team’s upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers against Greece and
Israel faces Greece in a must-win match at Bloomfield Stadium
next Friday before visiting Croatia in Zagreb four days later.
and Tamuz have been in scintillating form for Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel
Aviv, respectively, in recent weeks, but Fernandez is pleased with the forwards
he’s used in the last few qualifiers and is far more concerned with his team’s
defense, handing Maccabi Netanya centerback Omri Ben-Harush and Hapoel Tel Aviv
right-back Iyad Khutaba their first call-ups on Thursday.
“I have plenty
of offensive weapons, but we need to continue to work on our defensive play,”
Fernandez said on Thursday.
“We won three complicated matches and now we
need to beat Greece and record a good result against Croatia.”
straight wins have seen Israel climb to third position in Euro 2012 qualifying
Group F with 13 points from seven matches.
The blue-and-white is tied on
points with Croatia and trails Greece by just a single point.
with the Croats and Greeks playing one match fewer than the national team,
Israel will have to pick up at least four of a possible six points from its
upcoming qualifiers to have a chance of finishing among the top two ahead of its
final match against Malta on October 11.
“Greece is top of the group and
has yet to lose a qualifier. This will be a very difficult match,” Fernandez
said. “We then visit Croatia, which for me is the best team in the
“We had to win the last three qualifiers to keep our hopes alive
and we are now back in the race for a top-two finish.”