Under-21s qualify for European finals
Beats talented French squad 1-0 thanks to 93rd minute goal by Amir Taga.
By JEREMY LAST, HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
October 11, 2006 21:30
1 minute read.
israeli soccr crowd 298 .
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel's under-21 soccer team made history on Wednesday night when it qualified for the UEFA Under-21 European Championship after beating 1-0 France in a dramatic playoff game in Herzliya.
It is the first time an Israeli soccer team has qualified for a major tournament since the 1970 World Cup finals.
Guy Levy's team, who had scored a crucial away goal in Saturday's first leg in France, defended stoutly and then Amir Taga scored a winning goal in the 93rd minute.
After surviving massive pressure from France towards the end of the second half Taga knocked in a rebound from Toto Tamuz's shot.
Tamuz and fellow Betar Jerusalem player Amit Ben-Shushan both played for the under-21s after playing for the senior side in the 1-1 draw with Russia on Saturday night.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the Chairman of the Israel Football Association, Itche Menahem after the game, and told him, "This point is a new stage in the history of Israeli soccer, which this team has begun."
Olmert asked Menahem to send the team his congratulations, and to tell them they brought pride and great joy to Israeli citizens.
"The winning goal was proof of this teams winning character," said Olmert.
No one gave the inexperienced Israeli squad much of a chance to advance through the playoff round against the talented French players, many of whom play on some of the best teams in Europe.
The Israelis will now compete in Under-21 European Championship finals tournament in Holland in June 2007.