Biram Kayal 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Schalit/AP)
After its listless display in the 3-0 defeat to Mexico last week, Israel faces Honduras in Houston on Sunday night hoping to gain confidence in its final friendly match before getting its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign underway in September.
Two horrendous mistakes by goalkeeper Ariel Harush gifted Mexico a comfortable victory, with the blue-andwhite also struggling severely on the offensive end to complete an all-around dreary display.
Since the 2-0 victory over Honduras in a friendly in New York last June, Israel has gone seven matches without a win, losing five times and drawing twice.
The national team failed to triumph in its last four 2014 World Cup qualifiers while also losing its past three friendlies over the last year.
Israel begins its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign against Belgium at Teddy Stadium on September 9.
Israel was drawn into Group B with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Wales, Cyprus and Andorra, with the qualifiers to be played from September until October 2015. For the first time in the tournament’s history, the European Championships will involve 24 nations, eight more than previous events.
Therefore, the top two teams in each group will automatically qualify for Euro 2016 in France, with the best thirdplaced finisher to also gain direct qualification.
The remaining eight thirdplaced teams will take part in play-offs during November 2015.
Despite making just 10 appearances for Standard Liege in the Belgian league in 2013/14, Tal Ben-Haim was once more handed a starting role in the center of Israel’s defense against Mexico.
The 32-year-old is hoping to start again on Sunday and make his 80th appearance for the blue-and-white, which could really use a morale-boosting victory against Honduras.
“We had a poor day against Mexico, but our goal remains the same, to make sure we are as ready as possible for the match versus Belgium,” said Ben-Haim.
“We are not looking for an excuse for the defeat against Mexico, but only how to register a better result against Honduras.”
On Friday, Israel’s Under-19 national team secured a spot in the 2014 European Championship finals after edging Georgia 1-0 in a winner-takes-all encounter.
Both teams had won their two previous fixtures in the mini-tournament in Nyon, Switzerland, but Georgia only required a draw to go through on goal difference. However, Israel clinched the win thanks to a 69th-minute goal by substitute Sagiv Jehezkel.