Well what can you do. As they say, payback’s a B—- and Israel,was given its due in Zenica, Bosnia on Friday night going down to the home side 3-1. Shockingly Israel actually took a 1-0 lead on a Tal Ben Chaim nifty strike off a short corner (yes, amazingly Israel scored on a shirt corner) but that lead didn’t last too long as Bosnia evened it up just a minute later. And wouldn’t you know, Israel succumbed to the same fate as they did against Wales in Haifa by giving up a goal at the stroke of halftime. This time it was an inadvertent handball by Sheran Yeni, but nonetheless a handball which was called for a penalty. That was all she wrote.
It’s clear that Israel is just not as good as the competition in their group from Wales, Belgium and Bosnia. There’s not much you can do when the teams you are playing are head and shoulders above you in every aspect. From fitness and quality to the leagues that the players on those national teams play for, are all better than Israel in every way, shape and form.
The big question is, how can Israel begin to take steps and compete with these countries who don’t exactly have populations much larger than Israel. Why are they so much better? Why do they produce better players? Why can’t Israel also churn out athletes that can head to the best leagues is in the world?
It all begins with the youth system. Israel must invest in the youth and make a concerted effort to start putting the pieces in place to produce world class footballers. In order to do that, proven experts from countries around the world should be brought in to mold the youth system for the IFA which will in turn also work with the football clubs across the country. There is only one club at this point which is doing its utmost for the youth which is Maccabi Tel Aviv.
One of the bright moves was to bring in Michael Nies to work with the IFA youth system. I believe his hard labor showed some fruit, however the IFA decided not to extend his contract. Big mistake on every level.
Here you have a proven commodity who is doing a terrific job and you decide to dump him out the door to save money. Not good. Not a good move at all.
If Israel wants to be serious about competing with these countries, they MUST sit down and do some serious soul searching or else we’ll be only fooling ourselves if we think we can play with the best. Unfortunately, looking back at the 3-0 win over Bosnia in Haifa can now be seriously chalked up as a fluke, no question about it. Defeating both Andorra and Cyprus is what Israel should do and they will probably win in the return legs at home that will give the side 15 points. But let’s be reasonable, to actually get some kind of result in Belgium and/or Wales is an absolute pipe dream and nothing more.
Could Israel steal a point in one of those countries? Sure it could happen, but if history is any indication it’s been about two decades since Israel had some sort of shock victory on the road against a top tier national team. It’s doesn’t look good in other words.
But we are always the optimists and have to keep plugging away and hope that Israel can make there way into a world class tournament for the first time since 1970. However, if Israel really wants to not count on optimism and luck they should surely start worrying about their youth system and invest in the future. Without the future there is no present.