Text size

West Ham United's Yossi Benayoun and Deportivo La Coruna's Dudu Awat sounded upbeat yesterday about tomorrow's clash with Croatia.

"It's always good to play in front of your home crowd; it's a fantastic feeling," goalkeeper Awat said after a light training session with the rest of the national team. "We can definitely beat Croatia. It's in the best shape among the group's teams, but we're thinking about a victory. Israel has the ability to beat any team, especially at home."

Benayoun, who is still receiving treatment for an injury, but is expected to play tomorrow, spoke of the significance of playing for the national team. "I know for sure that after the game against Croatia, I will have to rest for three weeks," the midfielder said. "The national team is more important to me than anything else, and I believe that this is how it should be. I want to win; we can win."

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic is well aware of the Benayoun threat. "Yossi Benayoun is Israel's most dangerous player, and if he's really going to play with an injury it's good for us, because he won't be as good," he said yesterday. "In any event, I would like him to play, because we know him well.

"Israel is a fanatic team, and Benayoun is fanatic about the national team; he took the field injured in Russia, too. In my opinion, it's good for us. I prefer him over someone I don't know."