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(photo credit: AP)
Israel captain Yossi Benayoun said Wednesday that the team's players know what went wrong against England and the side will be looking to claim a victory against Croatia on Saturday, despite being an underdog.
The blue-and-white, which is currently fourth in Group E with 17 points, needs to take all three points in Zagreb on Saturday to have any chance of finishing the campaign in first or second position and qualifying for the European Championships.
"We believe in ourselves," Benayoun told reporters at a press conference at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
"They're the favorites, but we're not giving up. We know what we did wrong at Wembley and now we must claim a victory against Croatia.
"It will be a massive surprise if we win, but we worked hard all week and we will do our best on Saturday."
Benayoun will be flying out to Croatia with his teammates on Thursday
Israel coach Dror Kashtan will have to manage against Croatia without the suspended Dudu Awat, Arik Benado and Yoav Ziv and will also be without Idan Tal and Salim Toama, who both pulled out of the squad through injury.
Kashtan was critical of his team's play against England on Wednesday and claimed that the Croatians are overconfident ahead of Saturday's match.
"You can see Croatia's strength simply by looking at the standings. They beat England, recorded good results against Russia and also defeated us 4-3 in Ramat Gan. They're very confident and perhaps even slightly arrogant ahead of Saturday.
"I'm very pleased with the attitude of my players and I'm happy with the pace of training.
"Naturally, the interest in this match is not as high as the England encounter, but we're still the national team and we're obligated to do all we can to put on a respectable performance."
Croatia has been outstanding in its campaign to date, winning seven and drawing two of its matches, scoring 24 goals while conceding just four.
Coach Slaven Bilic, who has guided his side to the top of the group, amassing 23 points, is wary of Israel despite his team's excellent position.
"Israel doesn't lose too many games," he said. "They lost against England because they played pretty badly. This would be their crucial match and they have to win if they want to stay in the running.
"Israel still has an opportunity of qualifying so it will be a difficult match, but we know where we are in the table and we're not afraid of being the favorites. It will only motivate us. We are ready to win."
One of the many stars of the Croatia squad is Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva.
The Brazilian born player, who scored a hat-trick in Ramat Gan, was doubtful for the match earlier this week after being ruled out of Arsenal's game against Sunderland on Sunday.
He has, however, declared himself fit to face Israel after coming through training unscathed. "I took part in the whole practice on Tuesday, so it's good," he said. "I will be ready for Saturday's match.
"I know people expect goals from me and I have got used to it. I also know they think I will score another hat-trick. But I would rather win this match than score three times - that is more important."
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