Israeli national team players celebrate qualifying for the quarterfinals of the World Cup (Photo: Israel Football Association Instagram page)
In recent months, the youth team has tried to figure out which players will be available for the World Cup. The question mark and cloud hovered mostly over two players. One is the undisputed star of the Euro 2022 team, Oscar Gloch, and the other is Maccabi Petah Tikva striker Idan Tocalomati. Soon the professional staff realized that Gluch and Tocalomati would not be available to them, and began to think about the alternatives. If in Gloch's place Thai Abed stepped into the attacking midfield position in the middle, then Tocalomati's replacement did not prove himself in the youth team before the current championship, and his name is Anan Halili.
The professional staff followed Halili throughout the last season and understood that he can withstand the rhythms and especially the physicality of other teams in the world. The attacking player who starred in Maccabi Haifa's youth team was invited, and already in training it was clear that he was in the zone: "Anan is a great player, and more than that - a professional," said a player in the national team. "He fought and ran endlessly. And as we've seen, he also knows how to be sharp in front of goal."
Halaili, who started the tournament in the first team against Colombia and even recorded very good minutes, but in the two games that followed he was relegated to the bench, not playing a single minute in the Aliyah match against Japan. The young striker's big moment came last Tuesday, when Halaili, came on as a substitute, scored the winning goal and lifted Israel to the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
"Enjoyed the right job" with his father. Anan Halailly in a Maccabi Haifa uniform (Photo: Maor Elkeslassy)
More about the youth team
Not impressed by Israel in Brazil? "It's going to be tough, but we're improving"
The King's Way: The youth team's achievement at the World Cup is no accident
Hawaiian generation: To justify the hype, the youth excellers have to survive a difficult transition
More in Walla! sport
Yila Huss in an interview: "Ofir Chaim's joy and mine come from sorrow"
See full article >
Halaili's career began at a very young age, and if one has to mark its most important professional figure, there is no doubt that it is his father Majdi. The father, a fitness trainer among others, took Anan and his younger brother Iyad a year as a personal project, and began working with them non-stop on the athletic aspect. "All over the world, they first work on athletics at young ages, and then they introduce football. In Israel, it's the opposite," explains a senior official in Israel's national teams. "Anan probably enjoys the right job, because there is no doubt that he has athletic qualities at European level and that can be dressed more easily in football."
Indeed, Halaili, both in Maccabi Haifa's youth department and in the under-20 team, is considered a player with quite impressive statistics. His strong physique doesn't prevent him from being one of the fastest players in his yearbook, a statistic that has helped him a lot this season with the national junior champions with numbers of 12 goals and 11 assists.
Halili focused this season on the Greens' youth team, but last season he recorded a magic moment for him, when he made his debut for the senior team in the quarter-finals of the State Cup against Hapoel Hadera. Maccabi Haifa's professional staff was impressed, but made it clear that Khalili is not yet ready to be in the first team. This season, the striker established himself as the star of the youth team. "Anan is a great player, but he has more to give and work on in order to be ready to be a player in the first team," emphasizes a source at Maccabi Haifa.
Came with question marks, but became a key cog in the team. Halili with Ofir Haim (Photo: Getty Images, Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Image)
The youth team is also convinced that Khalili still has room for improvement until he realizes his potential: "Physically he is tremendous," states a team source, "but he still has something to work on in terms of understanding the game. His advantage is that he's a professional and a good kid, he wants to learn and listens all the time, so he has a really promising future ahead of him."
That future is expected to begin in the coming season. While Hapoel Afula wanted to see Khalili, who can play both as a 9th striker and as a winger in the national team, Maccabi Haifa tends to keep the player in its first team squad. Halailly will start training under Masai, whom he knows well from the youth team, and only later will it be decided whether he will stay or go out on loan. "There is no doubt that the upcoming season is important for Anan," explained a source in Haifa. "So it's important to do the right things for him as well. He can definitely be part of the senior team and even contribute."
- Israeli football
- Israeli national teams
- Anan Halailly
- Youth team