israel soccer 298.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Yaniv Katan and Walid Badier were dropped from the Israel squad by coach Dror Kashtan on Sunday afternoon ahead of the national team's crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia on Saturday.
The Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv captains, who started for Israel in the 3-0 defeat to England at Wembley Stadium, have struggled with their form in recent weeks, with Katan not even making the Haifa starting line-up in its last two matches.
Michael Zandberg, who came on as a substitute for the blue-and-white in England, was also missing from the 23-man squad named by Kashtan on Sunday .
Israel, which is currently in fourth position in Group E with 17 points, must defeat top of the group Croatia on the road, if it's to have any chance of advancing to next year's European Championships.
Croatia has won four and drawn one of its five home matches of the campaign, conceding just a single goal. The team easily defeated Israel at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan last November and has been extremely impressive in its qualification campaign to date.
Defensive midfielder Moshe Ohayon, who plays for FC Winterthur of the Swiss second division, could make his debut in Zagreb after being called-up to the squad for the first time. Ze'ev Haimovitch and Itzik Azuz of Bnei Yehuda and Maccabi Netanya midfielder Tamir Cohen are also in with a chance of making their official debut for the national team after making a good impression in Israel's exhibition match against a side of local foreigners last week.
Dudo Awat, Arik Benado and Yoav Ziv are all suspended for the match against Croatia and are as a result out of the squad. Israel's top scorer of the campaign Roberto Coalutti, who is struggling to return to full fitness, was also dropped and will miss his second straight qualifier.
Queens Park Rangers striker Ben Sahar and Belgian based Salim Toama were called up after missing out on the team's match at Wembley. Despite the absence of Benado and Ziv, Betar Jerusalem still has six players in the squad, more then any other club. Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv sent a combined four players to the squad, the same amount as Maccabi Netanya.
The national team will come together for a training session at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Monday, before flying out to Croatia on Thursday.
Goalkeepers: Nir Davidovitch (Maccabi Haifa), Liran Shtrauber (Maccabi Netanya) Defenders: Tal Ben-Haim (Chelsea), Shimon Gershon (Betar Jerusalem), Avi Strul, Dedi Ben-Dayan (Maccabi Netanya), Yuval Shpungin (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Yigal Antebi (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Ze'ev Haimovitch, Itzik Azuz (Bnei Yehuda), Eyal Meshumar (Maccabi Haifa) Midfielders: Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool), Itan Tal, Gal Alberman, Aviram Bruchian (Betar Jerusalem), Salim Toama (Standard Liege), Tamir Cohen (Maccabi Netanya), Moshe Ohayon (FC Winterthur) Forwards: Barak Itzhaki, Toto Tamuz (Betar Jerusalem), Elyaniv Barda (Genk), Omer Golan (Maccabi Petah Tikva), Ben Sahar (QPR)