The Last Word: Kashtan is the man to blame

As most Israeli fans knew could happen, the national team froze in the spotlights and failed to come anywhere near close to performing as it should have.

By JEREMY LAST
September 9, 2007 05:38
1 minute read.
dror kashtan 298 88

kashtan 298 88. (photo credit: )

 
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After all the hype and excitement, the positive preparation and the pressure on England, the Israeli players were brought down to earth with a thump in the intense atmosphere of the famous London Wembley arena on Saturday afternoon. As most Israeli fans knew could happen, the national team froze in the spotlights and failed to come anywhere near close to performing as it should have done. Much of the blame must be laid upon coach Dror Kashtan. Barak Itzhaki and Yaniv Katan were the wrong choices as strikers. The ineffective Itzhaki, who has done so well in recent internationals, had no chance against England's far bigger central defensive partnership of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. When Toto Tamuz replaced Itzhaki at half time, he did little to improve the situation. Katan has been a shadow of his former self since he returned to Maccabi Haifa, after a poor spell at West Ham United. The tactics in the first half were all wrong. Israel knew it had to soak up the pressure and just about managed in the first 10 minutes, but they needed to try to attack as well. The first England goal came from an overly defensive tactic which proved the point. Israel won a throw-in deep into the England half but, instead of trying to create a scoring opportunity, the ball was played all the way back to goalkeeper Dudu Awat who booted it into touch. It was from the resulting England throw-in that Joe Cole received the ball, which he crossed to Shaun Wright-Phillips who scored. This simply was not good enough. It was one thing getting lucky draws away from home, as Israel did in the previous World Cup qualifying campaign. But there needs to be a massive improvement if the national team is ever going to regularly challenge top level sides.

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