Israel National Team head coach Eli Gutman announced the roster for the upcoming friendly with Slovakia next Wednesday night March 5, 2014 in Netanya as the country begins preparations for the UEFA Euro 2016 Tournament to be held in France. Notable omissions from the squad were veterans and former captain Yossi Benayoun, ‘keeper Dudu Aoute & defender Tal Ben Haim.
The team includes: GK-Ariel Harush, Guy Haimov, Ofir Marchiano D-Eyal Meshumar, Avi Rikon, Rami Gershon, Omri Ben Harush, Sheran Yeini, Eitan Tibi, Oral Degani M-Maharan Radi, Eran Zahavi, Maor Bozaglo, Hen Ezra, Lior Refaelov, Bibras Natcho, Maor Melikson, Nir Biton F-Elyaniv Barda, Eden Ben Basat, Omer Damari, Tal Ben Haim, Ben Sahar, Ahmed Abed.
Some of the surprising additions include Ahmed Abed, Ben Sahar & Oral Degani and others not included on the roster are Dor Micha & Gal Alberman of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Itay Schecter of Nantes and Moanes Dabour of Grasshoppers.
Interestingly enough 6 Maccabi Tel Aviv players do make the roster and only 8 or a third of the 24 players are foreign based.
I have no problem with Gutman leaving Benayoun, Ben Haim & Aoute at home as I believe their time at the National Team expired last campaign when Israel did not make it into the 2014 World Cup playoffs. It was a brave and bold move by the coach and his new assistant Arik Benado. Also, the troika of players only caused drama and problems throughout the qualifiers, be it, Ben Haim’s bad attitude, Aoute’s unprofessional Russian press conference or Benayoun manipulating the team behind the scenes.
Thank you for your years of service, it was appreciated, but now it’s time to go. And yes, that also includes you Dudu after you stated that you would be the one who would determine when you retire from national team duty. It’s time for all of the players to be on the same page and understand that they are playing for their country and not themselves.
It is an honour and a privilege to play for Israel. Not a right.
If I am naming a new captain, I take Elyaniv Barda without a doubt. Hands down he is the man to lead the team for Eli Gutman. If you have been following his club team Hapoel Beer Sheva all year you would know that because of his positive influence, fire & determination and professionalism the club is only 4 points behind Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2nd place. Barda who played more than half a decade in Belgium, picks his teammates up when they are down and always knows how to say the right things at the right times. I think that is reason enough.
I know that if Elyaniv Barda leads Israel out onto the pitch next week, my country of Israel will be well prepared and well represented.