FIFA

After Northern Ireland It’s Clear: Israel’s Tournament Was a Failure

Results speak for themselves.

If up until Tuesday's game with Northern Ireland one could still debate the correct definition for this tournament, the pathetic home draw left no doubt: It was a failure. True, the national team finished third in the group, as expected, but Eli Guttman hasn't got too many reasons to be cheerful.

The sad fact that there was only one home victory, against Luxembourg, speaks for itself. There was also the humiliating loss to Russia and the embarrassing two draws with Azerbaijan. Guttman will naturally point up the two draws against Portugal, but they fall far short of making the tournament a success.

On Tuesday, Guttman opted for a relatively offensive line up, but both Lior Rafaelov and Maor Melikson had an off-day when approaching the opponents’ goal. One wonders why the coach decided to bench Elyaniv Barda, who played well in Portugal and can handle physical defenders. In any case, Guttman now awaits the decision of Avi Luzon, the Israeli Football Association chairman, who will probably decide to give the coach yet another chance to show what he can do with the national team.

"The whole tournament was characterized by lack of stability," Guttman said. "This isn't a disappointing end to a disappointing tournament; it was definitely a reasonable campaign. There was the low point against Russia, when the team looked far removed from the way I wanted it to play. From that moment on I changed course. We didn't begin the tournament well. When you get only one point from six in the two opening games, and the team looks really terrible, one can only improve, and that's what we did. I'll meet Avi Luzon this week and submit my report. Personally, I wasn't aware in the beginning of the differences between being a club coach and the coach of the national team. Still, I enjoy myself, I'm proud and I'm excited before every game and practice session."

AP