Ruttensteiner to take the blue-and-white reins ahead of pivotal stretch

Technical Director steps down from front office, takes over from fellow Austrian Herzog as Israel's National Team soccer head coach

Willi Ruttensteiner has his work cut out for him in his new role as Israel’s National Team soccer coach, with a number of crucial games coming up in the next couple of months.  (photo credit: ISRAEL FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION)
Willi Ruttensteiner has his work cut out for him in his new role as Israel’s National Team soccer coach, with a number of crucial games coming up in the next couple of months.
The Israel Football Association held a press conference on Wednesday to announce the appointment of  Technical Director Willi Ruttensteiner as the new head coach of the Israel National team together with Israeli Alon Hazan.
Austrian Andi Herzog, who had been the coach for close to two years, departed a few weeks ago and will be replaced by Ruttensteiner, the man who had originally brought in Herzog to manage the team on the international stage.
Also from Austria, the 57-year-old Ruttensteiner has been involved with international soccer for two decades and has coached his home nation’s squad in the past as an interim manager back in 2011.
Israel has two important campaigns coming up, beginning in September when it will play in the semifinals of the 2020 European Championship Playoffs against Scotland, as well as in the Nations League B where it will play the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Scotland.
“It’s a great honor and privilege to be the national team coach in Israel and to work with the best players in Israel,” stated Ruttensteiner. “I want to thank all of the board members who trust my work and it’s also an honor to do this together with Alon Hazan who was a great player in Israel. I believe that we will be able to do some good things.”
Due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus, having Ruttensteiner stepping out of the front office and into the role of coach was a prudent choice by the IFA executive.
“It was the best solution for Israel football if I do this with Alon. This was determined in a meeting that I was not a part of and I believe that we will do a good job together.”
Since receiving the news from the board, Ruttensteiner has been busy mapping out his immediate goals for the upcoming 2020 European Championship Playoffs against Scotland in the semifinals and then a clash with ether Serbia or Norway in the final should the blue-and-white advance.
Ruttensteiner will also be at the helm for the Nations League B campaign that is slated this fall as well.
“We want to bring Israel back to the top level of world football. We are now up in the Nations League B and we are playing top teams and we want to stay in the B League. Our goal is to win the semifinal of the Euro playoffs and we will to focus 100% on that game. We need to begin focusing only game by game with the goal to win our first at Hampden Park in Scotland.”
Ruttensteiner will also be looking at long term plans as well which will include how the national team is perceived within the country.
“We will work on the image of the national team. We want to be successful, dynamic and connected to the people of Israel and we have to be one heart and work for one goal. We want to show the people of Israel that we will never give up. We may lose or draw, but we will never give up until the last whistle of the game and this is the winnig mentality that Israelis are used to.”
The new hea d coach understands that in order to bring Israel back to the higher levels of international soccer, the team will need to go through a process from top to bottom.
“It’s a process to go forward in the world rankings. I want to work on the tactical process of the team whether it’s set pieces or the like. We want to bring in the top Israeli players from top Israeli leagues. Their performance with the national team will help their careers in their club teams.”
Israel may have a number of players who are plying their trade abroad, but many do not get sufficient playing time for their club teams which then impacts the quality of play that they bring to the national team.
“We want all of our players to play at a high level with their clubs. I was just talking with Ilay Elmkies, who is 20 years old and is paying with Hoffenheim. I told him he must try to take the next step forward. He is in the German Bundesliga and if he plays he will help the national team by giving back. If players are not playing it makes it very hard for us.”
One of the major issues in the last campaign was the team’s defense and keeping the ball out of the goal. Ruttensteiner understands that he will need to work hard on that aspect of the team’s play in order to improve.
“We gave up too many goals and we have to improve our defense. 3.3 goals is too much, too many goals. We have to improve and reduce that number. If you study our goals, the ones that we scored, 16 in all, 11 of them Eran Zahavi scored and only one was scored by a midfielder. We must have more players who are dangerous and not be so dependent on Eran Zahavi.
“I want to play with higher intensity and higher on the pitch and more compact which we will begin in September. We have to have a winner mentality which is at 100%. 99.9% is not enough. I want to see us improve game to game in order to reach our goals.”

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