Israeli national team players celebrate qualifying for the quarterfinals of the World Cup (Photo: Israel Football Association Instagram page)
And here is the prediction: Israel will not be at the 2026 World Cup, not even at the 2030 World Cup. If you believe in numerology, it has nothing to do with the identity of the coach or the difficulty of the rivalry Negril, but with what happens to the Israeli player in his third ten, the one between 20-30.
Let's go back for a moment to the wonderful European Championship that was also held under coach Ofir Haim, with an almost unimaginable qualification to the final and victories over teams with big stars: What happened to the opposing young players, after a few months?
They reached the Euro final a year ago. And what did they do in the 202/23 season? (Photo by Getty Images, Eurasia Sport Images)
The English player is playing in the Premier League, maybe not right away, but even if he hasn't yet, he will work very hard to get there on loan to a team from the Championship, the second-best league. The Spanish player will play in La Liga: maybe not immediately in the first team of Real Madrid or Barcelona, but what's wrong with Valencia or Osasuna? So is the Italian player who will play in Serie A and his friend from Germany who will play in the Bundesliga. And not only them, because sooner or later, the players of the national teams (from junior to senior) of second-tier countries, such as Holland, Denmark or Belgium, will reach the top leagues of Europe, and not only them, but also from the third level, for example from Poland or Austria, most of the national team players will play in the top leagues of Europe.
How many players from the Israeli national team do you know who currently play in one of the top leagues? Mainly Manor Solomon - and he too is on loan who, at least for the moment, with all the love and praise he is nothing more than a bench player. Who else? Mons Dabur who retired from the Bundesliga team? Well, can you help me with other names?
An Israeli player, even if he is a star in the young team, will reach Belgium or Holland at the maximum - not that I underestimate for a moment those leagues that are of much higher quality and demand than the Israeli Premier League, but with players from Vitesse or Genk, not even Anderlecht (but only as stopovers), you don't reach the Euros or the World Cup.
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Belgian and Dutch leagues don't make it to the Euros or the World Cup (Photo by Getty Images, Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images)
Why did the Israeli player get stuck on the way to the top? The answer is clear: his European counterpart will play for two or three years in a team from the margins of the table or even from the second division, get stronger, develop hunger - and then move on to the big teams or at least to the really top leagues.
The Israeli player, on the other hand, if he is lucky, will play for Maccabi Tel Aviv or Maccabi Haifa, perhaps Hapoel Be'er Sheva. Why "if he's lucky"? Because he won't always get enough playing minutes from haunted coaches who prefer to play it safe (or strangers who have been sentenced to a coupon...) rather than "take risks" with young people. In the meantime,
he will read every day what his "associates" think about the coach's method of play, the one that makes it difficult for him to stand out, he will get used to training at "half strength" not to mention all foods. Worst of all, he knew that even sitting for a few months on the bench in Belgium (not to mention "Cyprus") would turn him into a "legionnaire" who would receive an upgraded contract worth several hundred thousand dollars a year, when he shelved, the European dream and returned to Israel.
A bad mentality and easy money have cost many Israelis dearly in the past (Photo: Getty Images, Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images)
With a hand on your heart: If tomorrow you are offered to earn hundreds of thousands of shekels in ten months of work, without making an effort and getting up at six in the morning to do strength training, without running at least ten kilometers every day, without overdoing it with the sprints (but yes with the burekas and schnitzels) and without going to bed every night at ten - and cutting back a little with the entertainment, would you agree?
I wish I was wrong, but it seems that the combination of a bad sporting mentality and easy money, which has already destroyed the value of so many young Israeli players in the past, will do the same for Ofir Haim's team.
So have fun, celebrate with them now and enjoy every moment, just do yourself a favor and don't count on them for the 2030 World Cup.
- Israeli football
- Israeli national teams
- FIFA U-20 World Championship
- Israel national team