Sinai says: Be prepared for even more disillusionment and disappointment

So what chance has Israel got of defeating Greece in Crete on Wednesday night? Almost none.

April 1, 2009 06:10
2 minute read.
Sinai says: Be prepared for even more disillusionment and disappointment

barda israel greece soccer 248 88. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)


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So what chance has Israel got of defeating Greece in Crete on Wednesday night? Well, if the past is anything to go by, almost none. Since the 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign, after which Israel became a full UEFA member, the national team has played 23 away matches against opponents competing with it for a place in a big tournament. And how many times has Israel ended those matches as the winner? One, single, meager, measly time, recording a miraculous 3-2 victory over France in the Parc des Princes Stadium in October of 1993. In the 15 years and 19 road matches since, Israel has failed to claim a single away victory. In Euro 96 qualifying, the national team lost away to France, Romania, Poland and Slovakia and did no better in its '98 World Cup qualification campaign, losing both to Bulgaria and Russia. Israel finished second in its group and reached a qualification playoff for Euro 2000, after losing to Spain, but managing to draw on the road against Austria. However, the team was humbled in Copenhagen by Denmark in the playoff and hasn't finished higher than third in a qualifying group ever since. In 2002 World Cup qualification, Israel was drawn to play Austria and Spain once more, but this time lost both times away from home. The team failed to take a single point in a significant road match in Euro 2004 qualifying as well, losing to France and Slovenia. In its bid to reach the 2006 World Cup, the team didn't lose on the road, but also didn't win, ending its group in third place after drawing in France, Switzerland and Ireland. In Dror Kashtan's first campaign as Israel coach, Euro 2008 qualification, the team continued to struggle away from Ramat Gan, losing to Croatia and England and drawing at Russia. Overall, in its last seven qualifying campaigns, Israel has played 19 matches on the road against teams as good, or better, than it on paper, and has failed to win even once, drawing five games and losing some 14 times. Israel's players have been speaking very confidently ahead of Wednesday's match in Crete, but the truth is that in recent years the team's form has been mediocre at best. Saturday's display in the 1-1 draw against Greece at National Stadium in Ramat Gan gave no new reason for optimism and Israel's record on the road in the past 15 years is anything but encouraging. Self-belief is crucial to a team's success, and is generally a positive sign. But if it is unfounded, as is the case with this current Israel side, it only guarantees disillusionment and disappointment, emotions Israel fans have become far to accustomed to and will likely experience once more on Wednesday night.

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