Fernandez unveils new squad for Euro qualifiers

Israel's new 23-man squad prepares for opener against Malta.

fernandez 311 (photo credit: nir keidar)
fernandez 311
(photo credit: nir keidar)
Israel will begin its preparations for its Euro 2012 qualifying opener against Malta on Sunday after new coach Luis Fernandez named a 23-man squad for Thursday’s encounter at National Stadium in Ramat Gan and next Tuesday’s match in Georgia.
The biggest surprise in Fernandez’s announcement was his decision to call up just five defenders on Friday.
“I’ve been working on the squad for two months and I’m confident we can win with these players,” said the Frenchman, who will be guiding Israel for the first time in an official match on Thursday.
“These matches will not be easy, but we must begin with a win. We have a lot of talent in the team and our goal is to beat Malta and only then turn our attention to Georgia.
“I’m not going to play with eight defenders. I want to play attacking soccer and score goals. I want a strong defense, creative midfield and an attack which can find the back of the net.”
Even without the ailing Roberto Colautti, Elyaniv Barda, Barak Itzhaki and Bibras Natcho, Fernandez has total faith in his squad.
“I really believe in these players,” he said. “I really want to reach the European Championships and so do they.”
Full squad: Goalkeepers: Dudu Aouate (RCD Mallorca), Ohad Levita (RKC Waalwijk), Dudu Goresh (Hapoel Acre).
Defenders: Dekel Keinan (Blackpool), Tal Ben-Haim (West Ham), Yoav Ziv (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Dedi Ben-Dayan, Danny Bondarv (Hapoel Tel Aviv).
Midfielders: Yossi Benayoun (Chelsea), Avihai Yadin, Gili Vermut, Eran Zehavi (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Lior Rafaelov, Eyal Golasa (Maccabi Haifa), Almog Cohen (Nuremburg), Tamir Cohen (Bolton), Biram Kiyal (Celtic), Maor Melikson (Hapoel Beersheba).
Forwards: Itai Shechter, Ben Sahar (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Shlomi Arbeitman (Gent), Eliran Atar, Yuval Avidor (Maccabi Tel Aviv).