As Dror Kashtan sat down to face the media
alongside captain Yossi Benayoun on Tuesday evening, the Israel coach
did his best to deflect attention from Saturday's defeat against Latvia
to Wednesday's almost-meaningless World Cup qualifier against
is correct to say [Saturday's loss] has ended our chances of
qualifying," Kashtan said with his usual stony-faced expression, "but
we have to finish the campaign in the most respectful manner possible.
It is also important in terms of our [FIFA] ranking for the next
Benayoun himself has been the center of attention since the 1-0
loss to the Eastern Europeans, after he was caught on camera shouting
obscenities at assistant coach Moshe Sinai
following his 66th minute
Immediately after the match Benayoun admitted he had been frustrated, but claimed he had simply been "swearing into the air."
Tuesday, both captain and coach stressed the air had been cleared in a
face-to-face meeting with Sinai on Monday and the matter was put to
rest. Any rumors of Benayoun quitting the national team were way off
the mark, they said.
"Moshe loves Yossi the way I love him, and Yossi loves us as we love him," Kashtan explained, somewhat bizarrely.
Benayoun said they all had a heart-to-heart and spoke about the issue as "mature men."
Kashtan once again dismissed calls for his resignation,
maintaining his intention to finish his contract, which lasts until
But there is still the small matter of a game against 115th
ranked Luxembourg to come, and while the Israelis may have beaten their
forthcoming opponent 3-1 away from home back in October last year, the
boys in blue and white would be foolish to take another win for
After losing 4-0 at home to Greece in its first 2010 World Cup
qualifier, the Luxembourg team coached by Guy Heller then went and
2-1 in Zurich on goals from Jeff Strasser and Fons
Leweck, who scored the winner in the 87th minute.
Since then, the only goal Luxembourg has scored was Rene
Peters's first-half equalizer against Israel, but the threat must not
The Israel team will be a little different from that which started Saturday's game, mostly due to injuries and suspensions.
will return to the center of defense and replace
the suspended Dekel Keinan
, while Betar Jerusalem
Bruchian is expected to slot into the position vacated by injured
Maccabi Haifa talisman Yaniv Katan
Up front, Espanyol striker Ben Sahar
will get his chance to
shine, with Kashtan likely to leave Omer Golan
on the bench after his
ineffective performance against Latvia.
Benayoun attempted to sound motivated for the game, saying it was always important to improve.
"We are all disappointed. We know it was our responsibility and
we want to fix this and get our respect back," he noted. "In our squad
meeting Dror told us: 'Think about how you would feel after a defeat to
Luxembourg.' No one wants to experience that feeling."
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