Gutman tapped to be next nat’l coach

With official decision to come in January, ex-Hap TA manager is a virtual lock

Eli Gutman 311 (photo credit: (Asaf Kliger))
Eli Gutman 311
(photo credit: (Asaf Kliger))
All indications are that Eli Gutman will be named as the new Israel national team coach next month.
The Israel Football Association officially announced on Tuesday that Luis Fernandez’s contract as coach will not be renewed after the blue-and-white fell well short of qualifying for Euro 2012, finishing third in Group F, eight points behind winner Greece and six back of second-placed Croatia, which eventually advanced via the playoffs.
IFA chairman Avi Luzon claimed during Tuesday’s secretariat meeting at National Stadium in Ramat Gan that he has yet to speak with Gutman about replacing Fernandez.
However, there is an almost unanimous majority among secretariat members to name Gutman as the next Israel coach, and barring any unexpected developments, the 53- year-old will be given the job in January.
“Obviously I’m in favor of Gutman,” secretariat member and Maccabi Herzliya owner Ariel Shaiman said. “He’s a good coach and he showed his loyalty to the national team by recently turning down a lot of money to coach Maccabi Tel Aviv.
“I don’t think Fernandez failed. We haven’t reached a tournament in 40 years, but nevertheless we all knew Fernandez was done. I think the next coach will be given a couple of campaigns.
In modern soccer you need to give the coach a chance to build the team.”
If everything goes to plan, Gutman will be at the helm for Israel’s friendly match against Ukraine on February 9, with the national team to also face Germany in June and Hungary in August before beginning its 2014 World Cup campaign in September.
Israel, which is dreaming of reaching its first World Cup final since 1970, will face Portugal, Russia, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in qualifying Group F.
Gutman has been on a break from coaching since guiding Hapoel Tel Aviv to the State Cup at the end of last season.
He also led Hapoel to the Premier League title in 2009/10 and to the Champions League group stage the following season.
Gutman first rose to prominence when he guided Hapoel Beersheba to the cup in 1997 and has been regarded as one of the country’s best coaches for over a decade since leading Hapoel Haifa to its one and only league championship in 1998/99.