Int'l Soccer: Optimistic Israel squad flies to Greece

Alberman stays behind after training injury but should be fit to play on Wednesday.

israel soccer team excellent pic 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
israel soccer team excellent pic 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel will hold its one and only training session at the Pankritio Stadium in Heraklion on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Greece. The national team left for Crete on Monday without midfielder Gal Alberman, who is expected to join his teammates on Tuesday after being held overnight in hospital for observation after a ball struck his face during Monday's training session in Ramat Gan. Coach Dror Kashtan used much of Monday's session to practice defending against set-pieces, which is no surprise considering the number of scoring chances the Greeks created from free-kicks and corners during Saturday night's 1-1 draw at National Stadium in Ramat Gan. Kashtan stressed to the players that they need to pressure the Greeks on Wednesday, although it's difficult to see how the team will manage that on the road, as it couldn't even do so when it faced Greece at home. The talk of the day among the players on Monday was Yossi Benayoun's attack against the Israel fans. The captain was dismayed by the fans' lack of support on Saturday, saying that the fans should have cheered the team throughout the entire match instead of booing the players at the interval. "It's not a nice feeling when the fans boo you instead of cheering you. It makes you nervous," Saturday's goal scorer Omer Golan said on Monday before the team's departure from Ben-Gurion Airport. "We're feeling very positive ahead of Wednesday's match. We're very optimistic. We believe in ourselves and I hope we can get the job done." Ben Sahar was also upbeat about Israel's chances of taking all three points in Wednesday's crucial match. "This is a do-or-die match," Sahar said. "We know we need to return home with the three points and I hope we can do it. We have the ability; we just need to show it on the field." The media shy Tal Ben-Haim refused to address Benayoun's comments, insisting the team is fully focused on Wednesday's match. "Had we won on Saturday we would have happily settled for a draw in Greece, but now we face a slightly different situation," Ben-Haim said. "I believe we can win on the road. I hope we don't disappoint the fans again."