The Israel National Football Team has a crucial match this upcoming Saturday night in Jerusalem against Cyprus as a victory coupled with a Bosnia & Herzegovina draw or loss will guarantee the Blue-and-White a ticket to the Euro 2016 playoffs to take place in November. Finishing in third place will put Israel pretty much where they should be, except the two teams whom we all thought would be in first and second places, Belgium and Bosnia are in reality Belgium and Wales with Bosnia sitting right behind Israel. All in all though a third place finish is what was expected prior to the tournament start.
Is it a disappointing spot? Perhaps. Is it a reason to celebrate? Perhaps. The bottom line is that third was the expectation, but the question that remains is who will they play in a two leg playoff to see who gets one of the 24 tickets to the Euro in France.
There’s a lot of anti-Israel sentiments running around these days and there’s been a rash or violence and murders directed to Jews and Israelis in the Holy Land recently. There’s even been talk about moving the match to Haifa. For those reasons alone the Israel players must be ready to defend the pride of the country and give everything they’ve got on the field of play.
Israel should without a doubt defeat Cyprus at home even with a number of injuries. Head Coach Eli Gutman warned everyone this week that Cyprus is a quality side that played all of the teams in the group extremely well and tight. But let’s face it folks they’ve beaten Cyprus away already and nine of the Israeli players are from Maccabi Tel Aviv, who have been playing competitive matches since July and is now participating in the UEFA Champions League Group Stages. Any result other than a win will certainly be deemed a disappointment. Of course Israel has to rely on Wales to take care of business in Bosnia, but with Gareth Bale and company against a team potentially without star Edin Dzeko, Wales will be favored to clinch an automatic berth in the tournament.
Should Israel need a win going into their last match in Belgium the chances will still remain, however diminished against a top five side in the world. Not what Israel would like to have to deal with, that’s for certain.
What can we the fans do? We all have to be behind Israel with 110% support, that’s what we all need to do. Cheer the National Team on! Wear Blue-and-White and support Israel as much and as hard as you can especially during this difficult time off of the pitch. With everyone’s help we will all make it through!