Only Cyprus can save Israel now

A miracle will see Israel through to a World Cup playoff spot.

In the last game of a difficult 10-match qualifying run, Israel learned a tough lesson that it had already taught the French, Irish and Swiss Never take the little guys lightly. Saturday night's 2-1 home victory over the Faroe Islands combined with France's 1-1 draw in Switzerland means that only a Yom Kippur miracle will see Israel through to a playoff spot for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The miracle: an unlikely Cypriot victory over France on Wednesday night Yom Kippur eve in Paris. An Israeli win by at least a four-goal margin against the Faroese would have increased the blue-and-white's chances of advancing to World Cup qualification from Group 4, but the poor result leaves Israel with little to no chance. Not that it's impossible. Israel, with nothing to gain, shocked France in Paris in 1993, eliminating that side from contention for the 1994 World Cup. Israel's only appearance in the World Cup to date was in Mexico in 1970.