Disappointment mixed with pride: These are the feelings of Israel's youth team tonight (Thursday) in Argentina after the painful 1-0 loss to Uruguay in the semifinals of the World Cup.
Coach Ofir Haim said: "I am very disappointed. There was an amazing atmosphere. Not simple feelings. We believed we could do it. I'm proud of the staff and the players, and I'm looking forward. We struggled to develop our game on the pitch. We should have played faster forward and we didn't do that. We gave our best."
Fans of the Israeli national team in Argentina before the World Cup semifinals | Credit: Roy Reznik
"We now have a war for third place in the world, it's amazing. We brought happiness and joy to the people of Israel. We want to reach these positions in the coming years as well. Thank you to the country, we felt the support and warmth. I was in shock and got goosebumps from the crowd."
Dor Turgeman said in tears: "Very sad, but we are proud of the path we have taken. We had a big tournament. We want to win third place. It's amazing for us. I want to thank all the Israelis who came, I'm sorry we didn't make you happy."
Dor Turgeman. Tears with excitement, photo: AFP
Erez Kalfon, chairman of the league's administration, said: "Tonight, of all places, all of us in Israeli football are proud, of Ofir Haim, of the staff and especially of the players. You've come a long way since last summer until today. You surprised Europe, you shocked the world, and we are sure that you will continue on the path in Israeli football in the upcoming season. For us, you are world champions."
Association Chairman Shino Zuaretz: "The dream of the final has not become a reality, but we are all full of hope, pride and optimism for the future. First the battle for places 3-4 and then with the junior team at the Euros and the senior team in the Euro 2024 qualifiers. Our magic team, the wonderful youth team, gave an entire country moments of happiness with brave, determined and inspiring football. The professional staff, the players, all the members of the delegation together make up a team that wrote an extremely impressive chapter in the history of football of the State of Israel and I have no doubt that they will all make a significant contribution in writing the next chapters. I know that even in the last game on Sunday, the players will come up to give everything they have before making their way back to a warm home waiting to hug them and thank them."
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Despite the painful loss, the team does not have much time to mourn. On Sunday at 20:30 p.m., she will play the battle for third place against the loser of the second semi-final between Italy and South Korea.
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