Soccer: Israel to start World Cup run against Switzerland

Will compete with Swiss team in Sep., before 3 straight away matches versus Moldova, Luxembourg and Latvia.

Dror Kashtan 224.88 (photo credit: )
Dror Kashtan 224.88
(photo credit: )
Israel will open its 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign against Switzerland at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan on September 6, before playing three straight away matches against Moldova, Luxembourg and Latvia. The match schedule for Group B, which also includes European Champion Greece, was determined in a draw in Zagreb by FIFA on Wednesday after the teams in the group failed to reach an agreement between themselves on the order of matches earlier this month in Tel Aviv. "This is the draw and we'll have to cope with it," Israel coach Dror Kashtan said. "Either way we have to play every team home and away. "You can look at the draw in two different ways. On the one hand, four of our first six matches will be played away, but on the other hand, four of our final six matches will be played at home, so there are advantages and disadvantages." The national team will host Greece in its fifth match on March 28 and will visit Athens for the return leg just four days later. "Originaly we wanted to face Greece in March-April when our players are in form. The weather during our away matches against Moldova, Luxembourg and Latvia should be comfortable," Kashtan added. "We will begin now to prepare and will do all we can to achieve our goal." Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon, who was on hand to witness the draw in Croatia, is still adamant that the only measure of success is qualification for the World Cup in South Africa. "We must start the campaign with a win against Switzerland at home. "If we do that the entire campaign will be easier and I believe that Switzerland will be out of the picture by the time we face them in the final qualifier," Luzon said. I've already said this in the past and I'll say it again. It's about time that after 40 years in the desert we will qualify for the World Cup. "That was the goal and that remains the goal. Anything other that qualification will be a failure." The group winner will qualify automatically for the World Cup finals with the eight best runners-up from the nine European qualifying groups going into a two-legged play-off for the remaining four spots. Israel's preparations for the campaign will begin in earnest next Wednesday when the team faces Romania in Ramat Gan in a friendly match.