Moment of truth: Israel readies for Iceland in Europe Playoff semifinal action

Mar 20, 2024 | Football

The Israel National Soccer Team will face Iceland in European Championship Playoff semifinal action on Thursday (21:45 Israel time) as they look to find a way into this summer’s tournament that occurs every four years. Should the blue-and-white make it past Iceland in a game that is being played Budapest, Head Coach Alon Hazan’s charges will face the winner of the Bosnia and Herzegovina versus Ukraine match that is taking place in Zenica for the right to play in the 2024 Euros that will be taking place in Germany. If Israel loses they will play a friendly against the losing team from the opposite semifinal.

Ahead of the big matchup, Head Coach Alon Hazan and Captain Eli Dasa spoke about the challenges that the blue-and-white are about to face, “This is the moment of truth and we want to be in these type of positions much more. We’re not looking as we have a very important game right here and now and we will do everything to succeed. We need to raise the level of our responsibility and commitment a bit. Manor Solomon who will not be with us is a very important player, but I’m not referring to players who are not at our disposal. We have to pay attention and focus on those who’ll get the opportunity to play and who will be on the field. We expect the players to appreciate that opportunity and prove that they also deserve it.”

“As for the situation around the war, we are not going to refer to the statements that have been made that are not related to football. Everyone’s attitude needs to change, from me to the very last person on the team. When we played last year, the war had just started and it was at a point in time that was very close to its beginning. We were all in total shock and the situation swept us away. We still have feelings about the what has been going on but must quiet any of the noise that is around us.

Hazan also spoke about who will be win the starting lineup, “I’m still not sure about the Starting XI, although I have some thoughts. I don’t like taking penalties at the end of the training session as doing so the day before the game is very different when everything is relaxed.”

“Let’s hope that as many people as possible will come,” Hazan commented. “We are concentrating only on football and not on what the other coach is saying. There are many difficulties but we are proud to represent the country and we will do it our way to bring joy to the nation.”

Captain Eli Dasa also looked back at playing for the people of Israel, “The situation with the war is really not that different as nothing is over. This time we will ned to really focus on the task at hand if we want to bring some pride to the country. Being a part of the team isn’t something we should take for granted and I treat every chance to play with Israel as my last one. Hopefully this time we will be able to advance, sometimes it goes more or less.”

Dasa also commented on what he and the squad are expecting from Iceland, “They are an aggressive and committed team who have quality players with a high work ethic. You can’t sat that we are favorites, this will only be the case if we come in 100% focused for the task at hand.”

As for his game shape, Dasa feels that he is ready to go, “I’m coming in pretty good shape and we’ve played a few games in the Russian league already. I arrive here focused to give 100% and if I do not play well I simply won’t be here and apart of the team. But really everything is fine and I am fine with every deacon that I have made. This is a final for all intents and purposes, but we need to find the right balance and when we arrive focused and prepared we see how many good things we can bring to the table. In the last two years, we have had a bunch of new young players join us with the senior national team. We are both teams at a very high level and I am looking forward to a good game.”

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