Shlomo Weiss reports ahead of the World Cup semi-finals (Shlomo Weiss)
The youth team is preparing for the moment of truth. After the heroic 2-3 victory over Brazil in extra-time, Ofir Haim and his players will meet strong Uruguay on Thursday (20:30) for the semi-final in which the winner will advance to the grand final on Sunday. You can feel the great quality around the Israeli team, which will take to the pitch at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in La Plata - where it played in the group stage.
So far, the team has played in front of pretty empty stadiums in Argentina, but it seems that this time it will be different. The fact that the Uruguayan team will play tomorrow in the semi-finals changes the rules of the game as there is a great demand from Uruguayan fans for the game. As you know, Argentana and Uruguay are neighbors. Uruguayan journalists estimate that between 10,20 and <>,<> Uruguayan fans will come to La Plata to push their team. The Israeli fans who arrived did not expect there to be a shortage of tickets and many of them expressed fear of being left without tickets for the game. Either way, Israel expects a hot atmosphere at the game, with thousands of Israelis also expected to support our team.
The stadium where the big game will take place (Photo: Walla!, Shlomo Weiss)
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Today, national team coach Ofir Haim held the press conference ahead of the match against Uruguay. "The victory over Brazil was great, it's clear to everyone, but we came from the beginning with the belief that we would go far. It won't be easy, they are favourites, but we come with confidence always and it will be the same in this game. Uruguay is a football superpower that produces countless players every year, but we will not give up. We respect them, but we will do everything to be in the final."
"Both teams will come with great desire, but I am not willing to lose with will, determination and sacrifice, where it will not happen. If we lose football then there's nothing we can do. We have the backing of an entire country, we will do everything to provide as many moments of happiness as possible. We know what their strengths are, also what the disadvantages are, but we will have to make the adjustments to qualify for the final and we want very much."
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Two victories from the dream. Ofir Haim with Khalili (Photo by Getty Images, ANDRES LARROVERE/AFP)
"There's no doubt, there was a lot of euphoria after Brazil, but we're so close to a dream I don't know if they even dreamed of it, and we're not going to give it up. We won't arrive euphoric, we'll come prepared."
Stav Lemkin added: "The win over Brazil was one of the greatest moments of my career. We don't look at it anymore, we prepare for the semifinals. We really want to thank all the fans who come, even those who support the country. It penetrates our hearts and helps in the tournament, if they keep coming we will make everyone happy. They come unequivocally to win, we're a good enough team, we don't plan to stop here."
- World Football
- Youth national football team