The national soccer team will play Austria in its crucial World Cup qualifying match at the National Stadium, Ramat Gan on October 27, FIFA announced last night.
The game, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed at the last minute by FIFA president Sepp Blatter following the crash of the Siberia Airlines plane last week. Initially, there were fears that the crash was a result of terrorist action against Israel.
A meeting in Prague yesterday between Blatter, IFA chairman Gavri Levy and his Austrian counterpart, Beppo Mauhart, saw the date fixed for two weeks' time. The kickoff time is still to be set and will be determined in consultation with Channel 1, which is to broadcast the game live.
A morning meeting yesterday in Prague between Levy and Mauhart was the first of a series of encounters designed to end the short dispute between the two nations and to find an amicable solution to the problem which was mainly of the Austrians' making. Levy assured Mauhart that there had not been any derogatory remarks made against him in the Hebrew press and that anything untoward had been misunderstood. The diplomatic terminology that issued from the room stated that the meeting had been "very constructive and useful," and that "obstacles between the two persons had been removed."
At a further unofficial meeting in the afternoon, the date for the match was agreed between the two FAs.
Austrian journalists have speculated that coach Otto Baric will have to do without the nine players who originally pulled out of the squad citing fears for their safety, and in any case, they would not have considered that there was any change to the situation here.
Reports from Vienna suggest that the Austrian foreign ministry has put great pressure on the Austrian FA to change its mind about coming to Israel for the match. "We do not want to appear to the world as a nation that has given in to terrorists," a senior foreign office official told Austrian journalists this week.
Poll: Austria will lose
An official Austrian FA poll has shown that the majority of their fans do not believe that they will hold off Israel and reach the playoff stage against Turkey.
A draw would be enough for Austria to go through and even though the poll was taken before the venue for the match was known, 56.2 percent of fans polled said that Austria would lose to Israel. Some 38,000 supporters took part in the poll.
Revivo to undergo scan on thigh
Israel and Fenerbahce midfielder Haim Revivo will have an MRI scan on his thigh after injuring himself during Wednesday's Champions' League match against Bayer Leverkusen. Revivo, who became the first Israeli to score in the Champions League during the 2-1 loss to the German side, will be rested for tomorrow's Turkish league match against Rizaspor.
Revivo will be a vital part of Israel coach Richard Nielsen's plans for the match against the Austrians, as will another player suffering from injuries lately, Eyal Berkovic.
He recently appeared to be returning to full fitness following a long layoff after he re-injured his hamstring while playing for English first division side Manchester City.
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