Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The World Cup dream is over ... again.

Israel's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Latvia on Saturday night left me bitterly disappointed as the team had now been assured of not participating in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. What left me so disappointed was that we had been given a relatively easy group and the players at manager Dror Kashtan's disposal were good enough to take Israel to their first World Cup since 1970. Ok, we failed ... badly ... but I'd like to focus on how Israel can make a better run at the next international tournament, Euro 2012. Instead of focusing on how Israel can become a better footballing nation long term (better infrastructure, emphasis on fitness etc), I'll look at the things Israel can change now to allow herself to become a far more capable team.

Manager - I don't like Dror Kashtan. His defensive tactics, unlike Avraham Grant's, failed to get results against the 'Big Boys' (0-2-1 against Switzerland & Greece so far) or even the 'Minnows' (0-1-1 against Latvia). Saturday night highlighted his deficiencies - In a game Kashtan had to win, he started with two defensive midfielders (Gal Alberman & Biram Kayal) and a striker who has been on the bench the whole year in the Belgian league (Omer Golan). I think the next manager has to be Eyal Berkovic. I know, he has no experience on this level (neither did Van Basten, Klinsmann or Bilic) but he's innovative, respected by his peers and understands football. He also very much believes in giving in-form youngsters a chance - something Kashtan failed to do with the likes of Eliran Atar and Mohamed Gadir. If the results don't improve, at least the product on the pitch will!

Goalkeepers - Despite both being prone to mental lapses, Dudu Awate & Nir Davidovitch are both very capable keepers. Kashtan made no mistakes with picking these two. They will probably be the first & second choice keepers for the next 3-5 years. Hopefully by then, we'll have a replacement ready.

Defenders - The backline is solid. Both Tal Ben Haim and Avi Strool are capable central defenders, with experience in Euorpe. They've been very effective when playing together. The right back position essentially belongs to Eyal Meshumar. He's a capable, efficient player who so far has done little wrong with the opportunities he's been afforded. The left back slot belongs to Dedi Ben-Dayan, the Israeli John Arne Riise. Much like Meshumar, he's not a bad defender - and even chips in with a few goals.

Midfielders - The first name on the teamsheet belongs to Yossi Benayoun. Although he's had a very average campaign by his standards, he's still Israel's best player. What Israel must strive for is to ensure he's not the only creative option relied upon. Future squads must include players like Mohammed Gadir (Haifa's 17 year old RW), Eyal Golassa (Haifa's 18 year old attacking CM) & Guy Assulin (Barcelona's 18 year old midfield starlet) on the bench, or even getting significant minutes in friendlies. The team must start giving these kids a chance - there's a reason they're holding their own against European competition. I would also continue with 2 defensive midfielders (but a different formation ... see below), and the two best currently available are Gal Alberman & Biram Kayal. I would give the right wing slot to Beitar's Aviram Bruchian. The 24 year old is one of the most talented players in Israel and I believe he can perform at this level.

Strikers - Elyaniv Barda has become one of the best strikers in Belgium - he deserves to be a starter. He should be partnered by Ben Sahar, the ex-Chelsea striker who now plays for Espanyol. These two give Israel the best chance to see goals from the front two. The one to watch however is Eliran Atar, Bnei Yehuda's 23 year old gem. If he can stay focused on football, and continue to improve, he has a chance to be one of the best strikers Israel's has ever produced.

The team I would play in the next competitive fixture is below:


--Meshumar-------Ben Haim---------Strool---------Ben Dayan--




GK: Davidovitch
Def: Dekel Keinan
Def: Yoav Ziv
Mid: Tamir Cohen
Mid: Yaniv Katan
ST: Mohammed Gadir / Eyal Golassa / Guy Assulin
ST: Eliran Atar


Anonymous said...

Nice article.

The funny thing about Kashtan was that the country greeted his appointment positively. He had a great record domestically and should have been able to negotiate the easiest group Israel will likely receive in our life time.

Totally disagree about Berkovic, hes a great commentator but I can't believe he has the discipline and know-how for top international level football. His playing days suggested that he has little tactical understanding of the gae.

Eliran Atar does look like a player to watch, the overhead kick last season was fat!

jeremylast said...

theres nothing more rediculous than the idea of berkovic managing any team, let alone being given the chance to screw up the side which represents our nation. he has no experience whatsover and is a complete dick. he will have no respect from anyone and just go around pissing everyone off.
besdies this, the idea that alberman and kiyal should play tomorrow is absurd. gal is injured and kiyal is shit.
Benayoun should definitely be dropped for his crap performance on saturday and disgusting attitude. he should be thrown out of the squad until this time next year.
Yoav ziv should play at right back. he has experience and is playing in europe. that shpungin who played on saturday fucked everything up.
tamir cohen should never be allowed anywhere near an israel squad unless he is transformed into a competetent individual and while bruchian is potenitally good, he has been shit since the start of preseason and needs to go somewhere quiet and medidate for a few weeks before returning.
to leave katan on the bench considering he was the only good player for israel v latvia is just inexplicable, unless you realised he has left the squad with a groin injury, but then why is he on the bench. and atar is injured also. if he wasnt injured atar should start up front alongsid esahar, with(as much as i hate him, mize) arbeitman ready to come on and score like he did against salzburg.
...otherwise you made some good points!

Avram said...


Re: Berkovic - I think you guys are being extra harsh on him. I don't think Bilic was the most 'disciplined' or 'sane' player and we see how impressive a job he's done with Croatia.


"gal is injured and kiyal is shit. "

I didn't realize Alberman was injured - scrap that. Kiyal is a very capable player. His performances against Salzburg, besides the idiotic 'missed red card' in the 2nd leg, showed a kid who's got all the tools to be a fantastic talent.

"Benayoun should definitely be dropped for his crap performance on saturday and disgusting attitude. "

No one really knows what happened in that episode - And you cannot drop your captain and best player. It would be like the Mancs dropping Rooney, or Liverpool Gerrard. Good players have bad performances at times - but they say, form is temporary, class permanent.

Re: Ziv. He's shit. Sorry, we both saw enough of him at Beitar to know he's just not good enough. How he made it to Europe, even if it is Belgium, I don't know.

Re: Cohen. I'm not sure why you're being so harsh on him. He's not a bad player, by Israeli standards and you cannot really say in one paragraph "he has experience and is playing in europe" and then discount it for Cohen ...

Re: Bruchian. He's been poor in his first few games because he thought he was moving on. I think he'll be 'back' now that he's staying until Jan ... He needs a new scene in order to take his game to the next level (how I wish the Ajax rumors were true).

Re: Katan. Forgot about his injury - I think I should have put my 'team for the first competitive game of the next campaign.' But he was very good in the 1st half and SHIT in the 2nd half. He disappeared ...

Re: Atar - He wouldn't start.

Re: Sahar - why don't you like him?

Re: Arbietman - I'd put him in the squad, he's definitely been the 'in form' striker (bar Atar) the past month.

Jpost said...

i never said i didnt like sahar. i said he should start.
kiyal has done nothing in the last two games. he has had his chance.
berkovic is simply an immature arsehole. he shouldnt be given any positions of responsibility.
"no one knows what happened in that episode"??
are u blind. it was all in front of me. he got taken off and then acted like a baby, screaming and crying. he had played crap. he should have taken it and sat down and let bruchian have a chance but he acted up right in front of the tv cameras and the press box.
we now have three meaningless qualifiers left - against luxembourg, moldova and switzerland. he should not play in any of those as a punishment.
ziv is not "shit" or he wouldnt be playing in belgium. he pushes up, has god positional sense and has more passion than most of the players put together.
and finally, tamir cohen is a waste of space. watch him tomorrow and u will see.
by the way, anyone need a lift to ramat gan tomorrow? i wish i didnt have to go but i do!

Avram said...

"i never said i didnt like sahar."

my bad

"kiyal has done nothing in the last two games. he has had his chance."

People always say that. The class is there. Two average performances don't deem a player 'unfit' for this level.

"he got taken off and then acted like a baby, screaming and crying."

Why don't you see that as passion? He wanted to be on the pitch, where he should have been. That he went overboard with his tantrum isn't acceptable - but to drop him for 3 games and perhaps force him into early retirement (ie Carra for England) is stupid. He's our best player, and should be playing every game when healthy. I think it was a brilliant move on kashtan's part (having never dropped him when he was poor before) - he knew it would keep the heat off him slightly.

"ziv is not "shit" or he wouldnt be playing in belgium."

You think Golan is any good? He plays in Belgium too. Remind me again why Ziv couldn't get a game for Beitar if he's so good? He's an average player with a great engine and speed.

"tamir cohen is a waste of space."

I don't think many of our countrymen could play, and score, in England. He's a capable midfielder - nothing special of course, but capable nonetheless.

"i wish i didnt have to go but i do!"

I was going to go with my lil sister. But then we lost to Latvia and I realized the atmosphere would be shit, so decided not worth it. Would rather play!