Despite the lack of attacking play throughout the 90 minutes, Israel's respectable 0-0 draw with England should have left most Israeli fans with a taste of what could very well be a very strong national team in the near future. England, despite a strong line up, failed to create much against a resolute Israeli back line - and were it not for the much expected defensive mentality shown throughout the night, Israel may very well have beaten an England team that was there for the taking. Despite this, Israeli football fans should be excited about a team full of young, up and coming stars who were not afraid to stand up to their far more experienced English opponents.
Three of the young stars that will be representing Israel in the u21 championships in Holland next summer continued to impress on the international level. Toto Tammuz, Yuval Shpungil, and Ben Sahar all played roles in tonight's draw and looked like they belonged. Shpungil, who struggled early on on with Aaron Lennon's pace, managed to contain the dangerous winger rather comfortably the whole second half. Shpungil, who is far more adventurous while playing for Macabbi Tel Aviv, will grow in stature as he develops his confidence in the international game. Tammuz, with his pace and power, was Israel's most dangerous player. He came close to scoring twice in the game, once forcing Robinson into a good save with a good shot and once heading just wide as he beat three English defenders to an Amit Ben Shushan cross. His inexperience is currently his worst enemy, but with time, Israel may have quite a player leading its front line. Tammuz will most likely one day be partnered by Ben Sahar (pictured below), who at 17 is Israel's youngest ever international. Despite only 20 minutes on the pitch, Sahar showed he belonged with some nice touches. The sky is the limit for this kid - it's only that Chelsea are the ones who will most likely benefit.
Although the aforementioned 3 performances were good, Israel's best player on the night was 25 year old Tal Ben Haim. The ragged Bolton defender was phenomenal, continually frustrating England's pacey strike force of Wayne Rooney and Andrew Johnson. Ben Haim was unbeatable in the air and ensured that Israel kept yet another clean sheet on its home field.
Israel's next game is on Wednesday against Estonia. The game is a must win if Israel intends to qualify for the Euro 2008 championships. However, this fan is excited by the best generation of youngsters this country has ever produced, with a majority of them yet to be included in the national team set up. Israel will most likely not qualify for Euro 2008, but with the continued progress of these kids, I fully expect a strong (& hopefully successful) challenge for 2010's world cup.