What can you say? Was this the same Israel National team that played just a few days ago against Mexico? Is this the same squad that got splattered 3-0 by a Mexican side heading to the World Cup? Was Honduras just that bad? Shouldn’t Israel be in the World Cup and not Honduras after embarrassing the Central American side 4-2?
Those are just some of the questions that you could ask after seeing a totally different Israel National team than the one we have seen so many times over the past couple of years.
Israel came out very tentatively the first 20 minutes, but then turned on the jets and dominated a totally overmatched Honduras team almost in their own backyard of Houston, Texas with fabulous play by primarily domestic based Israeli players.
Goals scorers Eran Zahavi of Maccabi Tel Aviv, an own goal that was set up by the aforementioned Zahavi & glanced off the Honduras defender from a shot by forward Tal Ben Haim also of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Omer Damari & Gili Vermut of Hapoel Tel Aviv all showed that perhaps, just perhaps Israelis playing at home in Israel instead of going to European countries to ply their trade is not such a bad idea.
That of course is helped by the fact that Maccabi Tel Aviv is operated as a top level European club and Damari & Vermut are levels above most other domestic Israelis and are being rumored to go ply their trade in bigger and better leagues.
But the differences that littered the pitch was that of a confident Israel National Team, confident in their abilities, confident in their play and confident in their teammates is a vast change from prior matches that we have seen the team play.
Interestingly enough was that Israel’s top two goal scorers from World Cup Qualifying, Eden Ben Basat & Tomer Hemed were both not playing in this match, and Israel was still able to control the tempo of the match and put up 4 goals! Now when was the last time that happened?
With about three months before Belgium invades Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium for the first Euro 2016 qualifier, Israel will feel good about this dominating win, except that Belgium, Wales & Bosnia are not Honduras. Honduras is a quality side, but not in the same league as European countries in size and strength and that is where Israel is still lagging behind.
So, will we see the team we did last night against Honduras or a much more careful and tentative squad with bigger forwards and more caution?
As coach Eli Gutman said after the game, “I have a lot of food for thought before the game against Belgium in September, and I believe we will be ready. We applied pressure today and were responsible with the ball and scored four goals.”
Gutman certainly does have some things to think about and what type of lineup he should play in Israel’s first Euro qualifier. What will he do and who will he play will be the big question as we head into the summer months.
What do you think Eli Gutman will do?