The youth team players celebrate qualifying for the semi-finals of the World Cup (Photo: Israel Football Association)
Watch the game summary. Courtesy here11
The amazing and rare achievement of the youth team is also a rare opportunity to shatter some stigmas about Israeli football, and especially about the Israeli footballer. It is worth taking advantage of this amazing achievement of our youth team to understand where we went wrong. Since Mexico 70 they have been trying to convince us that we are inferior to European footballers. And not only. Since Mexico 70, all the experts have been trying to explain that our system is problematic, that we will never be able to narrow the gaps, and have sold us fairy tales.
They explained that the Israeli footballer doesn't train like the Europeans, explain that the Israeli footballer is lazy, doesn't like to work hard, isn't an athlete like the Europeans (compared to Brazilians no one even dreamed of editing), and we have no chance of coping with the crazy pace of play at the highest levels in Europe. After the huge victory over the Brazilian national team, and even before, you can say with certainty that they worked on us, worked on you. In short, they tried to put us to sleep and sell us stories.
Forget everything you've learned so far about Israeli football. Ignore everything you thought, believed, and most of all, ignore all our stigmas, superstitions, and terrible statistics. After we all wake up from the dream, we will have to throw into the sea all the clichés we liked to use, we will have to disconnect from the glossary of terms that each of us had in our mouths, and we will have to get used to new expressions, different concepts, invent a new pocket dictionary for the Israeli footballer. And not only.
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Changing perception. Roy Revivo (Photo: Reuters)
After everyone understood that the amazing achievement of Ofir Haim and his youth team (ours) is not accidental, we should all understand that the achievement of the youth team changes the world order here. Everyone. To the media, team owners, coaches, and fans. The youth team proved to us that we didn't know much about the Israeli footballer. The youth team proved to us that the moment has come when we all need to change the way we treat our players, and especially try to emulate our colleagues around the world. Not the actors - the media.
We didn't need the amazing victory over Brazil to understand that the current youth team is changing our world order here, changing our perception of the Israeli footballer, and mainly eliminating some of the stigmas we grew up believing in. Many have fallen into the trap set by editors, journalists, commentators, and just all sorts of opinion makers. Everyone liked to smash the image of the Israeli footballer, everyone preferred to excuse the achievement of Israeli teams in European enterprises by the fact that foreigners make all the difference. The youth team proved to us that it is possible to do otherwise.
We always chose the easy way. All. Journalists, commentators, activists and fans alike. After every failure of our teams, it was easiest (for all of us) to drop the case on the coach. The Torah race began over who would dismantle the coach more, who would hang him in the town square, who sharpened the knives best. It was always the coach who absorbed the fire, the insult and, of course, the price. For years we loved to deal non-stop with the composition of the national team. The media was constantly engaged (before the game) in analyzing the lineups, and at the end of each failure, began to pound the coach. All of them underwent bypass surgery, all were recommended to be sent home. Fast. Even the best of them.
So let's shatter some stigmas (rights reserved to Ofir Haim and the youth team). It turns out that the battles and discussions about a place in the first team are no longer really interesting. This World Cup proved to us that coming off the bench is no longer an insult, it can even be an advantage. A trump card. It turns out that it is possible to ignore background noise, pressure from businessmen, agents and dominant elements in the media, and not only stay alive, but succeed in a big way.
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Set a new standard. Ofir Haim (Photo: Reuters)
It turns out that with determination, sacrifice, tremendous motivation, modesty, a strong dressing room and a great connection between the players and the coach - it is possible not only to narrow the gaps against big teams in Europe and around the world, but also to demonstrate superiority. Ofir Haim taught us and the Israeli coaches that those who believe are not afraid. The method of intimidation that existed here over the years by coaches (and players) before every game against a strong team, has become a way of life over the years.
The huge achievement of the youth team against good and great teams, the goals in extra time, the return to life (so quickly) after a goal conceded just before half-time, or 22 seconds after opening extra-time against the most feared team in the tournament, prove that a national team coach must consider in determining the squad not only the talent of the players but also their personality, their mental strength.
Unlike other teams (especially senior teams), we didn't see egos in the players, no stories came out of the dressing room, we didn't see camps in the national team, we didn't read or hear about messages that were conveyed from agents, for example, to the professional staff. We saw something completely different. It doesn't matter what happens from now on in the tournament - for us (at least for me) Ofir Haim and his players have proven that they are already world champions.
And there's another stigma that must be shattered. For years, the appointment of national team coaches has been criticized. The media (mainly), the officials, team owners and all sorts of other opinion-and-interested people constantly complain about combinations in appointing coaches, and the main argument was that the heads of the association care about their cronies. Even Yankele Shahar (remember?) said that the system must be changed in order to succeed.
The stars of the Premier League are not lifted from the people and they too should and must be visited (Photo: Danny Maron)
There have been and will be the appointment of associates and members of the Israeli national teams (and not only), but it turns out that the appointment of associates has also brought results over the years to the Israeli teams. Note: Stern Haluba, one of the most powerful people in Israeli football in recent decades, appointed Ofir Haim as coach of the youth team. The same Stern Haloba appointed Bonnie Ginzburg as deputy technical director of the junior teams. And the same Stern Haloba appointed Moshe Sinai to be in charge of locating young talent.
Over the years, Stern Haloba has become the punching bag of the media and of quite a few activists. The same Haloba is responsible for the appointment of Guy Levy as coach of the young team, the appointment of Eli Ohana as coach of the youth team, and the appointment (twice) of Guy Luzon as coach of the young team. Levi led us to the European Junior Team Championship, Ohana led us to the European Youth Team Championship and Luzon led us to the European Junior Team Championship. Ofir Haim and his team made us understand that combina is not always a bad word.
If there's anything that needs to change in our system, it's one thing – Premier League stars are not idols. Premier League stars (with problematic personalities and inflated egos) don't have to be on the national team. The stars of the Premier League are not lifted from the people, and they too should and must be criticized. Yankele Shahar is right - the system needs to be replaced. You can't go on like this. Journalists and commentators should not be afraid of the big stars. There is no need to protect them, there is no need to fear a boycott on their part. You don't always have to dismantle the coach. On the pitch there are players. And here it is not customary to be pagans.
- Israeli football
- Israeli national teams
- Youth team
- Ofir Haim