Gutman picks squad for upcoming friendlies

Israel will face Portugal, Russia, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in Group F of 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

ISRAEL COACH Eli Gutman 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
ISRAEL COACH Eli Gutman 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Israel coach Eli Gutman handed Excelsior Rotterdam defender Samuel Scheimann and Brest striker Eden Ben-Basat their first call-ups to the national team on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming friendly encounters against the Czech Republic and Germany.
Injured goalkeeper Dudu Aouate and striker Elyaniv Barda were both left out of the 25- man squad, which will leave Israel for Stegersbach, Austria on Sunday for a two-week training camp which will include a meeting with the Czech Republic on May 26 and a friendly against Germany in Leipzig on May 31.
“During the training camp we will focus on the tactical, managerial and mental aspects,” Gutman said on Wednesday. “We will implement a clear playing system and build the team in a way that will allow us to play our best soccer, raising the level of belief in our ability to achieve our goal of reaching the 2014 World Cup.”
Israel’s lack of depth in the defensive positions led Gutman to Rotterdam where the 24- year-old Scheimann has lived since his family moved to the Netherlands from Israel 19 years ago.
Gutman will be hoping Scheimann can fill Israel’s glaring need at left-back, with his newest recruit making 30 league appearances for Excelsior, mostly in that position, this season.
“I’ve dreamed of this day for a long time,” said Scheimann, who experienced unsuccessful trials at Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya, among others, at the start of his professional career.
“I’ve always wanted to play for Israel. I can’t wait to meet the coach and the players and I’m grateful for this opportunity.”
Ben-Basat has enjoyed a relatively successful first season in Europe, making 32 league appearances for Brest in France’s Ligue 1, scoring four goals.
Among those returning to the squad are Celtic’s Biram Kiyal, who has recovered from a long-term injury, as well as Gili Vermut and Itay Shechter, Gutman favorites from their time together at Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Israel gets its 2014 World Cup qualifiers underway with a road match against Azerbaijan on September 7 ahead of which it is scheduled to play another warm-up game against Hungary on August 15.
Israel, which is dreaming of reaching its first World Cup since 1970, will face Portugal, Russia, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in Group F