I've blogged in the past about some of Israel's rising footy talents, only to feel let down by their inability to take the next step in their careers. Although Toto Tammuz, Yuval Sphungil & Ben Sahar are all still young, all three have failed to take the next step in the game. Be it due to a lack of playing time or poor form, the aforementioned threesome have seemingly regressed after strong 2006/07 club & international campaigns. Only Amit Ben Shushan, the speedy Beitar striker, has managed to have a solid campaign, contributing 7 goals to what will most likely be Beitar's second consecutive league championship. Their lack of impact on the international stage however was one of the low points of an otherwise strong Euro 2008 qualifying campaign (Israel tied for 3rd place with England).
With the preparations already beginning for the 2010 World Cup, Dror Kashtan has surprised the fans with the selection of one of the hottest properties in European football: Barcelona's 16.5 year old Guy Assulin. I have known about Assulin for the past year and a half after I 'discovered' him on Football Manager 2007. Having tried to follow his career as best as possible, it seemed quite obvious that he was highly regarded not only within Barcelona, but also within Spain as the Spanish FA tried to entice the youngster to play for Spain. However, from day one, Assulin stated he wanted to play for Israel and tomorrow, he'll hopefully get the opportunity to strut his stuff with the blue & white. With a relatively 'easy' World Cup 2010 qualifying group, a team with hungry and gifted youngsters like Assulin, Maor Bozaglo, Lior Rafaelov, Tammuz & Sahar may surprise and help Israel qualify for her first major tournament appearance since 1970.
For anyone interested in watching some live footage of Assulin playing for Barcelona C & Barcelona B, click here, here, here, here, here or here.