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Tomer Sarfati in an interview: "The majority here is in the army, we showed the country that we understood the meaning" - Walla! sport


Highlights: Israel under-20 goalkeeper Tomer Sarfati is making history at the World Cup in Brazil. He will play in the semi-final against Uruguay, and talks about the emotional game after the attack on the Egyptian border and the rare visit of his father. "We have special children here, we are like a family, very united, if you enter our meetings you will understand what the secret is," he says. "There is excitement but we are united, I as a goalkeeper believe in my defense one hundred percent," he adds.

The goalkeeper of the youth team who is making history at the World Cup opens up before the semi-final against Uruguay, and talks about the emotional game after the attack on the Egyptian border and the rare visit of his father

Israel national under-20 goalkeeper Tomer Sarfati speaking ahead of the World Cup semi-finals (Photo: Shlomo Weiss)

While in Israel the biggest stars of the youth team so far are the attacking players headed by Dor Turgeman, in the national team there are quite a few who attribute the success in the World Cup no less to goalkeeper Tomer Sarfati. If players such as Stav Lemkin, Or Israelov, Eli Madmon, Roy Revivo and others know the Premier League intimately, Sarfati spent most of the entire season in the youth league and despite the success in the Euros he was unable to make his way into Maccabi Netanya's senior team.

Sarfati came to the current tournament as an unknown name in Israel and certainly around the world, but is already in the notebooks of many scouts across the European continent after a tremendous tournament so far for him. Just before the fateful semi-final game against Uruguay tonight (20:30), the goalkeeper sat down for an open conversation about the feelings, the father who will see him tomorrow in the stands as opposed to the league games, and the relationship with Ofir Haim and Guy Solomon.

Tomer, in Israel you feel a kind of dream from your campaign, how does it feel inside?

"Obviously we feel like a dream because we won't be at the World Cup every day, but we are kids who believe and we always believed we would do something beautiful, honestly we didn't think semi-finals but we believe and with God's help we will do something special."

You were in the Euro final, but the buzz at the World Cup is bigger, does the level also feel different from last year's tournament?

"Obviously in the Euros there were a lot of good teams but here there are teams like Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay, but we prepare the same for every game of truth."

"There is excitement but we are united." Tomer Sarfati (Photo by Getty Images, Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images)

What's the secret of your magic?

"We have special children here, we are like a family, very united, if you enter our meetings you will understand what the secret is. The day before the game against Brazil we laughed and showed videos of ourselves and we were not nervous, there is excitement but we are united and believe in each other, I as a goalkeeper believe in my defense one hundred percent and trust every one of the players here and it is not taken for granted that there are children like this in such a team."

What's it like playing with Lemkin and Israelov?

"They are two special and they will go very far, it reassures me that there are such brakes ahead of me."

Until now it was relatively quiet but now the media is in droves here in Argentina, and many family members have come and fans, is it stressful?

"It's very exciting, I'll give an example about myself, my dad keeps Shabbat and he never comes to see me in league games and yesterday he landed and he'll see me but for me it's the same game. I haven't met him yet, but I feel something different in my heart because I'm not used to him in the stands and this time he will be. I'm happy he's here and I hope to make him happy."

Was there ever a clash for you whether it was football or Sabbath observance?

"My father has been observing Shabbat for about 25 years and I come from a traditional family, but until now it has never happened to me in my life that this is something that faced each other. Speaking of my grandmother who passed away a few years ago and was a lot for me, this is something that caused me difficulties. I remember she passed away, I got a kaffa because she was the one who supported me in football but it was clear to me that I was carrying on."

You're in an amazing tournament for you and still the spotlight on the attacking players. How does it feel that despite the ability, the focus is not on you?

"I'm glad the focus isn't on me. There are very talented players here, you saw Dor's goal and the other goals."

And yet in the first sixty minutes of the most decisive game against Japan, you left the team in the picture alone.

"I don't look at myself but at everyone, I wouldn't have succeeded on my own. Suppose I had done the great game against Japan, but in the end Halaili, he wouldn't have scored the goal, so who would have remembered my game."

More in Walla!

Lugassi doubts Uruguay, Ginzburg: "The media noise? They know how to disconnect."

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"There are very talented players here." Dor Turgeman and Anan Halaili(Photo: GettyImages)

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This is the classic problem of the goalkeeper's position.

"I'm happy that I have a lot of good players by my side and that the noise is around the whole team. Every player here can play at the highest level."

Do you feel like you're in top shape?

"The truth is that I am very grateful to Maccabi Netanya for leaving me as an age exception in youth, but I trained all year in the seniors. I see it coming to the fore, all year I trained with the seniors and played in the youth and I feel like I'm in good shape, I can't say it's my peak but I feel it was the right decision to stay out of age and play thirty games."

Before the tournament you were supposed to be the secondary goalkeeper at Maccabi Netanya, now there are those who think you are Eyal Segal's next exit.

"I'm very happy that the reactions around me are positive, but I really believe in Ran Kozuch, Almog Cohen and Ofer Basson to make their decision. I'm happy to be at a club that nurtures young people and I'm in touch with Ofer and Almog all day, they send me messages all the time and it's not obvious to me, I'm only a 19-year-old boy and a goalkeeper is a very late jump so I'm happy that I'm at a club that supports me and gives me the stage and I'm a lot thanks to the fit club I'm in."

There is a good generation of goalkeepers here making an impression.

"There are a lot of good goalkeepers in the country, there are a lot of goalkeepers at the young ages who are excellent and also secondary goalkeepers in the seniors who are excellent, you just have to give them the credit."

Unlike the previous games, this time there is a sea of expectations from you and you are no longer a clear underdog, at least not in Israel.

"Every game there was a little pressure and obviously now it's a semi-final and we understand the whole country will be watching us but I really trust the staff and the players, we have a special team with a special coach."

More in Walla!

Ofir Haim: "I am not willing to lose with determination and sacrifice, we have the backing of an entire country"

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"I've never had that kind of relationship with a coach." Ofir Haim (Photo: Getty Images, LUIS ROBAYO)

Truly tell us about the relationship between you and Ofir Haim.

"This is the funniest person in the world, I've never had such a relationship with a coach who is the most open with the players, just before a game when everything is very serious he makes a meeting that takes all the pressure off in seconds, it's not self-evident that you have a coach like that and more in the national team. He's just an asset."

Is the relationship with Guy Salomon also special?

"There's nothing about Guy, we have a great connection, he's 100% with me in every training session and he invests to improve me a lot."

Is the match against Japan the biggest of your short career so far?

"Even against France in the Euro semi-finals I was good, maybe a little better. I won't forget but the game against Brazil because we came back twice from behind and more in extra-time."

Was it more special because it was on a very difficult day for the country after an attack?

"This is our country and this is our soldiers and this is our age and the majority here in the army. It was very difficult, I'm very happy that Dor scored the goal and also celebrated in the way he dedicated the goal to the murdered. It showed the country that we understood the significance, I'm sorry it happened, it's true that it doesn't make sense to be happy on a day like this, but I hope that a little bit we encouraged the people."

More in Walla!

"Soldiers were murdered, the whole country is waiting for the Israeli team": Watch Ofir Haim's moving speech

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"I hope we have encouraged the people a bit." Tomer Sarfati (Photo: Image processing, Shlomo Weiss)

There's nothing like playing minutes but next season you're supposed to at least on paper be a second goalkeeper, are you afraid of that?

"I believe and I know that everything will come at the time of need."

If you are told, you have to struggle or go out on loan at Leumit, what will you choose?

"Of course I want to fight."

How is the relationship with Itamar Nitzan?

"Very good, he teaches me a lot, I actually sent him messages here, once because I wanted advice about the gloves and the ball that slips and he within a few minutes immediately answered me and helped me. Of course I would like to stay with him and I believe in the team in Netanya very much. I'm not afraid to sit on the bench, I trust the team one hundred percent, I was the third goalkeeper at Maccabi Haifa as a teenager and I know the feeling of struggling, I know I'll get my chance and I believe."

Need to dream about the trophy?

"First we get through the game today, it's a very difficult game."

  • sport
  • Israeli football
  • Israeli national teams


  • Mondialito
  • Tomer Sarfati

Source: walla

All sports articles on 2023-06-08

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