Senior team stars join up with Under-21s

Barak Itzhaki and Toto Tamuz join squad in Netherlands.

toto tamuz 298.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
toto tamuz 298.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Barak Itzhaki and Toto Tamuz joined the Under-21 squad in the Netherlands on Thursday, just three days before Israel faces the host nation in the European U21 Championships opener. Itzhaki and Tamuz played key roles in the senior side's victories against Macedonia and Andorra this week, scoring the opening goals in each of the Euro 2008 qualifiers. Coach Dror Kashtan insisted that both players remain with his squad for the qualifiers on Saturday and Wednesday, infuriating U21 coach Guy Levy. Ever since the U21 side booked its place in the tournament Kashtan and Levy have been bickering over which team should get preference in player selection. The coaches failed to come to an agreement over which players should play where and prepared their teams for their respected duties with a total disregard for each others needs. Five of the players Kashtan named in his squad for the matches against Macedonia and Andorra were also included in the squad Levy picked for the championships. Three of them, Ben Sahar, Dekel Keinan and Yuval Shpungin, left the senior squad after the Macedonia match, with Itzhaki and Tamuz remaining with Kashtan's team for the entire week. "Playing for the Under-21 side is just as big an honor as playing for the senior team. I enjoy playing for both sides," Itzhaki told Army radio on Thursday. The Betar Jerusalem forward was also very clear of the target the U21 team is setting itself for next week's championship. "Our goal is to reach the semifinals. Before we began our qualifying campaign, nobody took any notice of us. People only started to take us seriously after we knocked out France and qualified for the tournament," he said.