Israel focuses on the win vs Moldova

Israel focuses on the wi

It's not over just yet. Israel will aim to keep alive its lingering hope of reaching next summer's World Cup in South Africa when it hosts Moldova at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Saturday night. However, any chance the national team still has of qualifying for a first World Cup since 1970, depends not only on Dror Kashtan's men defeating both Moldova on Saturday and Switzerland on the road on Wednesday, but also on the Swiss and Greece faltering against Latvia and Luxembourg. Assuming Luxembourg, which was thrashed 7-0 by Israel last month, loses to both Switzerland and Greece on Saturday and Wednesday, respectively, the national team's only realistic chance of claiming a playoff berth will require Latvia to draw in Athens on Saturday and of course for Israel to win its two remaining qualifiers. Incidentally, a Latvia win in Greece would also be bad news for Israel, as it would mean the Latvians would finish ahead of the blue-and-white as long as they defeat Moldova at home on Wednesday. Nevertheless, Israel's first priority will be to win on Saturday and make sure it is still in with a prayer entering Wednesday's final qualifier, regardless of the weekend's other results. "We must first do our job," coach Dror Kashtan said on Thursday. "The players are experienced enough to know how to focus on their match and ignore what is happening elsewhere." Saturday's encounter is expected to be Kashtan's last official home match as Israel coach, and on Thursday the 65-year-old gave a rare insight into the way he perceives the job he has held for the past three years. "I met former prime minister Ehud Olmert last week and he told me that there are two very difficult jobs in Israel, being the prime minister and coaching the national team. "You need to put up with a lot as Israel coach." Public interest in the Israel side has hit an all-time low during Kashtan's tenure, and National Stadium in Ramat Gan will likely be at least half empty for a third straight match on Saturday. However, the veteran coach feels he does not bear the responsibility for the apathy towards the team among local soccer supporters. "The man in charge of marketing the team is the Israel Football Association deputy CEO," Kashtan said. "I'm not a standup comedian. My job is to coach the team not to entertain the fans." Kashtan is expected to make several changes to the team which trounced Luxembourg last month. As always, Dudu Aoute will start in goal, with Tal Ben-Haim and Dekel Keinan to play in the center of the defense. Dedi Ben-Dayan is a doubt for the match, and if he is not ruled fit Yoav Ziv will start at left-back, with Klemi Saban to play at right-back. Tamir Cohen and Avihai Yadin are likely to begin the match at the center of the field, while Yossi Benayoun and in-form Itai Shechter are set to attack from the flanks. Elyaniv Barda is guaranteed a place in the first 11, with Ben Sahar and Roberto Colautti battling for the open spot alongside the striker. "I love playing for the national team and I work very hard to make sure I am called up," said Colautti, who is back in the frame despite criticizing Kasthan after being dropped from the squad last month. "I think it will be very difficult to qualify, but we must fight until the end. We depend on the outcome of the other qualifiers in the group, but we need to focus on ourselves. We must first win on Saturday and then we can check what the other teams did."