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You have something to aspire to: The 10 greatest achievements of Israel's national soccer teams - Walla! sport


Highlights: There has been a growing claim that we are witnessing "the greatest achievement of an Israeli football team" following the youth team's qualification to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. We chose ten achievements, as far as they are. We left out the big wins - it's not a single-game ranking - as well as some achievements that didn't make the top ten. Israel played only four games to qualify for the final tournament, but look who it went through. The team beat New Zealand 0-1 in an opening game unprecedented by the team ("attacked in waves")


Ticked: Sports Events Summary Clip, 2.6 (Sports1)

In recent days, there has been a growing claim that we are witnessing "the greatest achievement of an Israeli football team" following the youth team's qualification to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Ostensibly, Israeli football is not full of achievements, but is the qualification of a youth team to the quarterfinals of a world championship really the greatest achievement of an Israeli team of all time?

We chose ten achievements, as far as they are. We left out the big wins - it's not a single-game ranking - as well as some achievements that didn't make the top ten, such as reaching a decisive pair of games against Italy for qualifying for the 1962 World Cup (the Israeli team had already led 0-2 at the Ramat Gan Stadium and conceded 10 goals by the end of the match...), goal difference from the 1960 Rome Olympics (which included a sensational victory in Belgrade over Yugoslavia 1:2) and qualification for the Euro 2000 playoffs (mainly because of the escort girls affair). The series of Asian Junior Championship wins was also left out. We only chose ten.

But despite everything, there were moments between us. Israel celebrating (Photo: Udi Zitiat)

10. September 2022 - Winning the Nations League and promotion to Group A and Euro play-offs

You can argue about that, obviously. The Russian national team was suspended because of the invasion of Ukraine, so the task of Alon Hazan and his pupils - without its main weapon in previous years Eran Zahavi - was more convenient: Albania and Iceland. Still, these were two teams that had not recently been to the Euros. Neither team lost and beat Albania (Thai Bribo) at the last minute, which made it all the more heroic. And there is also a bottom line: Israel is among the top 16 teams in the Nations League, which in itself will also earn it a place in the playoffs for Euro 2024 and the 2026 World Cup.

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Eli Ochannanana, yes! (Photo: Government Press Office)

9. April 1989 - Winning the 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification and qualifying for the playoffs

Here, the bottom line is, we didn't qualify for anything. In fact, in the six games of the campaign, the team won only the first game, against New Zealand, but there was something magical about that team – a team of hard work and brilliance in attack – and also breaking a glass ceiling that looked particularly thick and amounted to the words: Frank Arok.

The team beat New Zealand 0-1 in an opening game unprecedented by the team ("attacked in waves"), drew at home against Australia ("That's not how you build a wall"), equalized with a dramatic goal against New Zealand on the outside, and needed a draw in Sydney to qualify, and achieved it, but not before scoring one of the brightest goals in its history ("Eli Ochannanana... Yes!"). In the playoffs it lost to Carlos Valderrama's Colombia and René Higuita only 1:0 in Barranquilla thanks to a crazy game by Bonnie Ginzburg in goal and was not far from reversing the result in Ramat Gan, but ended 0:0.

An unforgettable goal. Tega (Photo: Bernie Ardov)

8. October 2006 - Junior Euro qualification

This was the first qualification of a senior team (under-22) for the final tournament of the European Championship, perhaps due to the shortening of qualifications (UEFA decided to move the tournaments from even-to-odd to even-numbered and therefore held a final tournament in 2006 and 2007, forcing it to do a qualifying summary), Israel played only four games to qualify for the final tournament, but look who it went through, And that's when the home game against Wales is held in Holland because of the Second Lebanon War.

The team beat Wales 2-3 from a Lior Rafalov penalty and since the Welsh rescued Turkey 0-0, Israel needed a draw in Ankara against the Turks with Burak Yilmaz and it got the 0-0.

In the play-offs, Israel drew France with Karim Benzema in attack, alongside Jimmy Bryan, Lassana Diarra, Florent Sinema-Pongol with Samir Nasri, Blaise Matweedy, Anthony Le Telc and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris on the bench. The so-called - end team. Guy Levy, on the other hand, decided to call in Ben Shahar, a 17-year-old boy, from Chelsea's youth, in place of Itai Shechter. And Shehr did make it 0-1 and Zubar equalized towards the end. In Herzliya, the young defended well, kept both the draw and the away goal and scored a winning goal by Amaya Tega at the buzzer. Sensation de la sensation.

The final tournament in the Netherlands was not as good (3 losses), but who remembers.

7. October 1968 - Olympic Quarterfinals

To a large extent, the Olympic tournament is quite similar to the World Cup. The distribution of tickets is quite equal and Europe does not get a large share, so the chances of success sometimes depend on the lottery. In 1968, there were very few professional leagues in the world, so the Olympic tournament was a microcosm of the amateur World Cup. And Israel got there thanks to a retirement of rivalry and a double victory – in Bloomfield – over Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) 0-11.

In the tournament itself – historic for the Israeli national team – the team arrived without the players who went to play in South Africa (both a professional league and a country boycotted by FIFA), but that didn't stop them from beating Ghana 3-5, El Salvador 1-3 and losing to the powerful Hungary 2-0, Hungary who would win gold. In the quarterfinals, Israel played Bulgaria (which lost to the Hungarians in the final) and drew 1:1, and since there were no penalties as a deciding method at the time, the winner was determined based on a draw won by Bulgaria. Israel's final position – 5 – lasted as the country's greatest Olympic achievement for 20 years, until the fourth place of sailors Yoel Sela and Eldad Amir at the Seoul Olympics.

Achievements that will be difficult to replicate. Old Israel (Photo: Moshe Milner, Government Press Office)

6. July 1976 - Quarterfinals Olympic Tournament

Here the team reached the quarterfinals despite not winning a single game in the tournament. The 3-point system allowed them to qualify from home thanks to 3 draws (0-0 against Guatemala, 2-2 against Mexico with 9 players and 1-1 against Michel Platini's France), so why is this achievement ranked higher than the last? Because of the qualifiers. Israel qualified for the Olympics after beating South Korea 1-3, which is an event that, even in the 70s, was virtually impossible. The stunning victory and a superb qualifying campaign, which also included two victories over Japan, obscured the performance of the tournament itself, which ended in a 4-1 defeat to Brazil in the quarter-finals. Just don't say on Saturday night that we had déjà vu...

5. April-May 1996, third place at the European Junior Championships

Until the current youth team, the achievement of that youth team was considered the greatest of any Israeli age team. Semi-finals of the European Championship. The boys' team was then led by 16-year-old Yossi Benayoun. Opening match: 3:0 defeat to Emre's Turkey. In the second game, Israel beats Slovakia 0:2, falls behind 1:0 against Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard's England, wins 1:2 on goals from Benayoun and Eitan Arbel and advances to the quarterfinals from first place, where it makes a similar turnaround against Germany and beats it 2:3. Only France in the semifinals overcome it and win 0:1, and in the third place game, Israel beats Greece 2:3.

When 16-year-old Yossi stunned Europe. Benayoun (Photo: Bernie Ardov)

4. May-June 2023, FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals

Wait, didn't they say that this is "the greatest achievement of Israeli football"? Not sure that's even the greatest achievement of this team. Not because it's not an achievement, but because along the way Israel beat two Asian opponents – as good as they may be – and drew with Senegal, who finished last at home. It's pretty clear

that if the team wins on Saturday night, it will jump in this ranking as high as it gets. It's not a condition, it's a hope.

In short, fourth place, for now.

So far they are fourth place, but the sky is the limit. Israel national team at the World Cup (Photo: Getty Images, Eurasia Sport Images)

3. May 1964 - Winner of the Asian Championship

It sounds a bit far-fetched that winning a continental championship is only third on the list of achievements of representative football, which is actually its only title, but again, the achievement must be taken in proportion. The Asian Championship was then held with the participation of only 4 teams. The host was Israel, thanks to the runners-up at the 1960 Asian Cup – the runner-up always got the hosting – and the three winners of the regional games: India (West Asia), Hong Kong (Central Asia) and South Korea (East Asia). Israel hosted Ramat Gan and Bloomfield and won all three games, while the third and decisive game against South Korea was played in a very impressive way, 1-2. Even then, it was clear that Israel was a rising force in world football and that the Asian region would bring it to its great achievements (three more of which appear here).

2. June-July 2022, runners-up of the European Youth Championship

At the moment, in my opinion, this achievement is greater than the achievement in the World Cup because it was achieved against tougher opponents. It started at the elite stage, where Israel beat Turkey and Scotland, which brought the team to the final of the European Championship for only the third time, in which only the continent's top 8 regularly participate. The two previous times she hadn't even won a single game.

Israel dropped an advantage in its opening match against Serbia and drew 2-2, beat Austria 2-4, a historic victory in the championship and lost to England 1-0, which was enough to qualify for the semi-finals.

In the semi-finals, Israel stunned France 1-2, and advanced to the final against the same England they lost in the group stage. Oskar Gluch with a brilliant goal led Israel to a 0-1 lead in a wonderful half, but the English turned it around and won 3-1. By the way, in the current World Cup, England were eliminated in the eighth final, but Israel in the quarterfinals.

Bigger than you describe. Spiegler (Photo: Bernie Ardov)

1. September 1969 – June 1970: World Cup qualification and two points in the group stage

You'll look surprised. With all due respect to the World Cup, this is the World Cup. Qualifying for it was more convenient than participating. Israel played only two games – both at home – while its arch-rival Australia played seven games – all away – and came into the pair of games against Israel with their tongues out, which didn't stop Israel from winning 0-1 at home and finishing 1-1 in Sydney (Spiegler did it). The very act of qualifying was sensational.

Israel was drawn into one group qualifying round with European champions Italy, South American champions Uruguay and Sweden, whom they regularly lost. In short, a house of death, but for Israel.

Uruguay beat us 0-2. Against Sweden we fell behind 1-0 but Spiegler equalized with a kick from just outside the area, and for the game against the legendary Italy - Paquetti, Mazzola, Riva, Rivera, Dino Zoff as second goalkeeper - Israel arrived knowing that an imaginary 0-2 would lift them to the quarter-finals at the expense of Italy. They settled for the 0-0 that the Italians were striving for and came out of the group stage with two very respectable points. Italy and Uruguay, who came up from home, reached the semifinals, Italy even reached the final. This achievement has become a myth in Israel, the myth of Mexico 70.

  • sport
  • Israeli football
  • Israeli national teams


  • Israel national football team

Source: walla

All sports articles on 2023-06-02

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