Israel readies for crucial World Cup Qualifiers

Aug 31, 2021 | Football

The Israel National Team gets back into action after a lengthy break with a trip of World Cup qualifying games in just a week. The blue-and-white restart their 2022 Qatar campaign after having played three matches back in March where they defeated Moldova, drew with Scotland and fell to Denmark.

This time around Head Coach Willi Ruttensteiner’s squad will head to the Faroe Islands for a date on Wednesday, then fly back to Israel for a game against Austria in Haifa on Saturday night and then they will go back on the road for a matchup in Denmark the following Tuesday.

Ahead of the three clashes Ruttensteiner spoke about both the on and off the field challenges his team will face during this short period of time as they look to make noise in Group F where they currently sit in third place behind Denmark and Scotland but ahead of Austria, Faroe Islands and Moldova.

The bench boss called in 26 players which included a mix of veterans and youngsters as well as two players who have had controversy swirling around them for quite some time in Omer Atzily and Monas Dabbur.

Atzily returned to the National Team squad after having spent time on the sidelines due to his incident with the minors and apologized for his part in the unfortunate episode. Dabbur also sent out an apology via statement for his unsavory Instagram post during the recent flareup between Israel and Hamas back in May and rejoined the blue-and-white side in time for the matchups.

Ruttensteiner addressed the situation concerning the pair of players and looked to use the two incidents as an educational lesson, “We have some players who have made mistakes and that infected the dressing room. All over the world people make mistakes. There is no area in life, politics and sports where people don’t make mistakes and that is also the same case as in football. But my players know what type of responsibility they have as national team players.”

“You have two options, to cut the players and that is it. However, I decided to talk to the Israel Football Association and the players to help them learn and improve from these mistakes. A great player knows how to rise up after a defeat. If these players made clear public statements and they didn’t want to hurt anybody involved, for me personally I am not here to give my feedback and response to these difficult situations. I am here for the Israel National Team players and to work with them. I felt as a Christian how people acted towards me in a friendly manner throughout the country. All of the players invited are coming with pride and will give everything to this team, but we have to show this as a unit on the pitch and show our unity to the people that they will be proud of the Israel National Team.

The first game of three against the Faroe Islands will be a very tough test explained Ruttensteiner, “We have to focus on our challenges now with our first game against the Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying. This will be under difficult circumstances and we will have to focus all of our intentions on this first game in order to come back in the 2nd position for a key game in Haifa against Austria. It is very difficult to go to the Faroe Islands and I want to thank the Israel Football Association for the private jet that we will be all to pick up the European based players on the way.”

Ruttensteiner understands that this first game and doesn’t want to look too far ahead into the future at the two games that will await, “We have a clear goal which is to take the 3 points against Faroe Islands and that is what we are focussed on. I have an idea about the other two games but I don’t want to talk about that now. We have a great challenge at Faroe Islands and we will play with 100% concentration. The players have to play their best and above our normal level. If we do that against Faroe Islands then we will look at the next two teams.”

There are a number of young players who have joined the team for this set of games including on defense with Ofri Arad and Ori Dahan. Tal Ben Haim, the central defender who just retired has joined Ruttensteiner as he expressed why the former English Premier League player is crucial for the advancement of the Israel National Team program.

“Ben Haim is a great former player and he will be an individual coach working with young up and coming defenders. He will make profiles for each of them and deal with their strengths and weaknesses in order to help bring them up to an international level. We want to get defenders into the top five leagues in the world as we have none currently in those leagues.”

Ruttensteiner is aware that a unified Israel National Team can have a very positive effect on the entire country and its multinational population, “I promise you that I can control the situation inside but we need those outside to support the National Team when we play in Haifa against Austria on Saturday night. Birbras Natcho, Eran Zahavi and Monas Dabbur need to stay together to show the pride to play for Israel and that in itself will be a role model for the whole country.”

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