Foggy game, foggier future for national squad

Israel falls to Chile in friendly; returns home after unsuccessful South American tour

Foggy Israeli soccer game 311 (photo credit: AP)
Foggy Israeli soccer game 311
(photo credit: AP)
The Israel national team will return home from its mini South American tour on Wednesday with far more questions than answers surrounding the reign of new coach Luis Fernandez.
On Sunday night the blue and white was easily defeated 3-0 by Chile in a friendly match in front of some 30,000 fans at the Municipal Stadium in Concepcion.
Both the result and the manner in which the team played will no doubt disappoint Fernandez and his bosses in the IFA.
Just like in last week’s 4-1 loss in Uruguay, Israel put up little fight, allowing a team preparing for the World Cup finals to steamroll to the win.
Fernandez once again attempted to look on the positive side, noting that it was “a good opportunity to look at the players in the squad.
“We have seen many things in both games and in the training sessions. I have seen all the players I wanted to see and it was very effective for us,” Fernandez added.
Goalkeeper Dudu Aouate was once again one of the few players who put in a positive performance. Without the effort of the Mallorca shot stopper the final score line could have been much worse for Israel.
Humberto Suazo scored Chile’s first in the 19th minute, knocking in a pass from Alexis Sanchez only a minute after having a better effort saved by Aouate.
Sanchez continued his impressive showing in the second half, putting his side up 2-0 just five minutes after the restart with a superbly struck long range effort which gave Aouate no chance.
Israel’s first and only real opportunity to score came in the 84th minute, but Roberto Collauti failed to take advantage of a Chilean defensive error and blasted a volley over the crossbar from a few meters out.
Marcelo Bielsa’s team then completed the victory a minute into timeadded on. Midfielder Avichai Yadin’s defensive header fell to RodrigoTello who fired it back in with a stunning volley from the edge of thepenalty area.
Fernandez’s assistant coach, Tal Banin, admitted it had not been easyto play against teams that have been preparing for the World Cupfinals, which begin on June 11 in South Africa.
Banin attempted to look forward to the start of Israel’s qualifyingcampaign for the 2012 European Championships, beginning in Septemberwith a home game against Malta.
“We are not looking at the result,” Banin said. “What really mattersfor us is September 2. We have to do what it takes to be ready for thereally important games.”
Striker Elyaniv Barda echoed Banin’s views.
“It is important that we all know that these are warm up games, Barda said.
“We have to learn from them and improve.”