A year after Israel's youth team made history by reaching the final of the Euros and finishing as runners-up of the European Under-19 Championship, now coach Ofir Haim and his players are making more history as they take their first steps in the FIFA U-20 World Cup against Colombia.
If Israel wants to reach the quarterfinals of its first-ever World Cup, it needs at least one win. Israel arrived in Argentina about a week ago and since then has held daily training, but has not held any preparatory games for the competition and in fact since the Euros most of the players in the squad have not played together in national uniforms. Oskar Gluch was not released from Salzburg and the injured Idan Tocalomati was also absent, but those who did step up and start in the lineup are Stav Lemkin, Or Israelov and El-Yam Kanzpolsky from Hapoel Tel Aviv, captain Eli Madmon from Beitar Jerusalem, Ariel Lugasi from Maccabi Petah Tikva, Thai Abed from PSV Eindhoven and Dor Turgeman from Maccabi Tel Aviv.
A historic World Cup is underway for Israel. Revivo (Photo: official website, Israel Football Association)
The World Cup was scheduled to be held in Indonesia, but its refusal to host the Israeli national team led to FIFA moving the competition to Argentina at the last minute. So, perhaps more comfortable tonight is Colombia, which finished third at the last South American Championship. Four years ago, Colombia was stopped in the quarterfinals, and in 2003 it was stopped only in the semi-finals, eventually finishing in third place. Just as Israel is missing Oscar Gloch, the Colombian squad is missing star John Duran, an Aston Villa player from the Premier League who was not released for the competition.
Israel national team composition: Tomer Sarfati, Ilai Feingold, Or Israelov, Stav Lemkin, Roy Revivo, Eli Madmon, El-Yam Kanzpolsky, Thai Abed, Ariel Lugasi, Anan Halayla, Dor Turgeman.
The other match in Group C of the World Cup will take place tonight and will bring together the stronger teams on paper, Japan and Senegal.
- Israeli football
- Israeli national teams
- Youth national football team
- Youth team