I have complete faith in the Israeli player: Ran Ben Shimon looks ahead to his first test as Israel National Team Head Coach

May 29, 2024 | Football

The Israel National Soccer Team will get back to action with a pair of friendlies against Hungary and Belarus as brand new head coach Ran Ben Shimon will get his first taste of leading the blue-and-white. Following a number of disappointing campaigns under the leadership of Alon Hazan and Yossi Benayoun, the Israel Football Association decided to make a change and bring in a battle tested head coach both in Israel and abroad who also has international football on his resume.

The 53-year old Ben Shimon grew up as a player in the Maccabi Petach Tikva youth system where he featured between 1987-1995, but it was with Hapoel Haifa where the defender starred and captained the Carmel Reds to the 1999 league championship. The Petach Tikva native also played for the Israel National Team making 34 appearances before moving into coaching where he began to earn his stripes in the Maccabi Tel Aviv youth department in 2003.

Ran Ben Shimon – Photo credit: IFA

His first full time head coaching job was with Kiryat Shemona where he helped the team earn promotion from the Leumit League and then finished in third place in Ligat Ha’Al action to earn a place in UEFA Cup play.

After a very short stint with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2008 it was back to Kiryat Shemona for a trio of seasons where he won a pair of Toto Cups as well as the shocking 2011-2012 League championship that became an international story of success for a small team finding a way to finish atop the table against clubs with budgets much higher than the northerners.

The next season, Ben Shimon went abroad to lead AEK Larnaca in Cyprus and then returned back to Israel to head up Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Petach Tikva and Beitar Jerusalem before taking the Cyprus National Team post where he plied his trade between 2017-2020.

Ashdod for three seasons and then another stop back at Larnaca was on tap before being appointed as the Head Coach of the Israel National Team.

Ahead of the two upcoming matches which for Hungary will be a tune-up for the UEFA European Championships, Ben Shimon was unveiled as the new bench boss and spoke about his vision for the blue-and-white as he begins to mold the squad to his liking.

Ran Ben Shimon – Photo credit: IFA

“The Israel National Team is not just another stop for me, it’s a mission and I will go into every working day treating it as the most important day. There are many things that I can take from my predecessors, part of which is the rejuvenation that the team needs to go through. If there is something that we have to do different this time around, it will be giving importance to the day to day work, the contact made with the players and the staff and working with the various clubs.”

“Being a national team player is how one conducts himself off and on the field, both when we are together as a team and when we are not. Every time we are together is of great importance to me. Every game will be treated the same, no more or no less important. This is an opportunity for everyone who is around the team to ask what they can do differently. We are in a complex period of time and I will try my utmost to connect this team to the people of Israel.”

Ben Shimon spoke about Barak Bachar who had been a leading candidate for the position but decided to head back to Maccabi Haifa after a short and disappointing run with Red Star Belgrade.

“Coaches who were deserving of this position were in competition for it and I don’t feel second to anyone, no matter what is written and what people may say. I was also a candidate in other campaigns, I feel very secure in my place.”

“Every place that I’ve been in my life there was also a clash between my head and my heart and I went with my gut feeling. This is the right place for me to be. I believe in my abilities to do different things than what was done in the past. I believe in this generation of players and I have arrived at the right stage in my life to coach the Israel National Team which is a big challenge. I will have to bring all the experience and what I have gained in life into the challenge that I am entering into today with great faith.”

Ran Ben Shimon – Photo credit: IFA

Ben Shimon will lead the team in the upcoming Nations League campaign where the opponents will be European heavyweights France, Italy and Belgium. “I am not going to deny that the main goal is Euro 2028, but we will have a competitive team in every game. We are not giving up in any game and there will be no games in which points can’t be obtained. Each game will give us a little more as to what we can do and accomplish.”

“I’m not going to pass up these two years. I’m going to work very hard to produce a DNA of winners and I need to create a team that will connect with the people in this campaign. We will not give up any game. That’s the beauty of sports – you don’t know what the outcome will be at the end. We will come into these games with complete faith that we can win.”

Ben Shimon added, “I believe that in the next week or so the balance of the staff will be appointed and if we only rely on the times we get together for games our philosophy won’t work. We have to work on a daily basis, work hard and convince the players that this is what it takes to advance to a big tournament.”

“In order to achieve different results, we must change. My predecessors did good things and we need to learn from that. I am a big believer in seeing what teams similar to ours have done and those that have broken glass ceilings. I am coming into this with complete faith in both the local product and the Israeli player.”

The new head coach also spoke about what type of players that he will want to include in his squad as well as how he will work with them to get the best out of the squad, “I will have to shape the nature of my work in front of the players. I prefer players with European experience, but the team is open to everyone. I will see who is willing to do more in order to play, that is the only thing I can commit to.”

Last campaign saw the ugly saga of Eran Zahavi’s room which caused a stir at the time, “Everyone comes in with their own agenda,” Ben Shimon said. “We’ll sit down and decide how we want things to look. I don’t think it’s too complicated, we need to create an environment for the players to succeed. I have a personal connection with each player. I have a wonderful relationship with Eran and I also spoke with (Miguel) Vitor. I believe that everything will be considered individually, but there is no doubt that the team is going through a process.”

Ben Shimon also commented on the path he took to become the head coach, “When I was a player, I didn’t think I would become a coach. All the stations I went through come back to me. While I am an emotional person, I am less concerned with the past and I am not very nostalgic. All this is nice, but from here on in it is a matter of seeing what we can do to succeed.”

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