Ofir Haim's exciting team warms the heart of the whole country, causes immense pride to all lovers of the sport, but also develops expectations, most of them unrealistic, regarding the impact of these young and talented men on the future achievements of the senior team.
Ofir Haim talks about the attack before the match against Brazil // Photo: Israel Football Association
Even after the European Championship in Slovakia there was euphoria around the team, and the expectation was that the teams that sent the most players (Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Petah Tikva) would integrate them into the lineup, or at least in the squad, and thus continue their progress. But expectations are mostly for pillows, and reality tells a different story.
Senior minutes of the players of Israel's youth team,
There is a huge difference between yearbook championships (youth and youth and to a lesser extent a young team made up of more yearbooks) and a tournament of senior teams. Two prominent examples in recent years of similar hopes shattered came from young Romania and Ukraine U20.
Romania reached the semi-finals of the Junior Euros in 2019, beating England 2-4 in the group stage. The Romanian line-up featured Yannis Haji (now at Rangers recovering from a serious injury that caused him to miss 371 days), George Puskas and Denis Mann (both now in Italy's second division). On the other hand, the English started James Maddison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, with Phil Foden and Tammy Abraham coming off the bench.
Revivo vs Brazil in the quarter-finals, Photo: Reuters
The young Ukrainians, who won the last FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland by beating South Korea in the final (one of the four finalists in the current tournament as well), have not been able to live up to expectations at the senior level (there are also unfortunate objective circumstances that do not exactly help), and the only familiar name is Andrei Lunin, who is also a second goalkeeper at Real Madrid (if you do not take Georgi Tsitysyaveli, into account, Clementi's son who played here for us).
So which of the young men who give us so much pride should make the big break next season? The two most prominent names are Stav Lemkin and Dor Turgeman, two of the tournament's top performers, who are also attracting the eyes of scouts hoping to receive an overseas offer.
Madmon, Photo: Maor Elkeslassy
The Eli Madmon Issue
The three youth players of Maccabi Haifa, Hamza Shibli, Anan Halailly and especially Ilai Feingold, who is having a wonderful tournament, will probably go out on loan in Afula, Maccabi Haifa's unofficial sub-team, and in Feingold's case I very much hope that he gets a chance in the Premier League team, because he plays in a position in which we do not have a large supply of players and he proves throughout the championship that he is definitely a player with significant potential.
Three other players who in my opinion must receive a significant stage in the Premier League are Or Israelov, a defender with the potential to go to Europe in the future, Roy Revivo, who, like Israelov and Lemkin, will soon join the young team at the European Championship and could easily fit into Maccabi Tel Aviv's rotation, certainly if Saburit is converted to the central defender position, and Yam Kanzpolsky, who must make a leap this season and has all the abilities to do it.
The big question mark revolves around the captain, Eli Madmon. Madmon, who flourishes under Ofir Haim, did not fit into his parent group, Hapoel B'Sheva, although Barda tried to integrate him. The big disappointment came at Beitar Jerusalem, with the coach who gave him the stage at the age of 17, Yossi Abukasis, who ultimately preferred Adi Yona, who is a year younger than him.
Lemkin. Ranked third in minutes this season in the Premier League, photo by Alan Shaver
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Rabbi Carlebach said that every child needs one adult who believes in him, and that is what Madmon needs now at the team level because at the national team level, even if we put all the necessary reservations, we see another player with the potential to be at least a significant player in the mid-table team in the Premier League. It would be a shame if it were lost, and I hope that Madmon's next choice will be the right one for him and allow him to realize his potential not only in the young teams, but also at the senior level.
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