The youth team has already reached a peak that no Israeli team before it has even come close to, the semi-finals of the World Cup. True, this is not the senior team. And yes, the eyes of the whole world are not on Argentina, as it was six months ago, when the World Cup of the "greats" took place in Qatar. Still, this is the greatest achievement of Israeli football in the country's 75 years. Forgive me Motella Spiegler and Giora Spiegel, stars of the team that played in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico: this achievement, of the young guys, is greater.
Ofir Haim and Stav Lemkin's press conference ahead of the World Cup semifinals
But leave historical comparisons now. At the moment it is not interesting. What is interesting and so impressive is that coach Ofir Haim, who overnight became one of the most beloved people in the country, is not satisfied with reaching the semifinals. Unlike many good Israeli coaches, he is not satisfied with the sensational victory over Brazil. He wants to go all the way. Beat Uruguay tonight. And then win the final on Sunday as well. Become a world champion.
Sound delusional? Yes, if we had spoken like that before the tournament started. Or after losing their opening game against Colombia. But in the 19 days since, this team has proven that it is no less than any opponent. And it's also getting better and better from game to game. So why not dream of winning the World Cup?
In a few days, when the World Cup comes to an end, Dor Turgeman's winning goal against Brazil will probably win the title of "Goal of the Tournament." And some of the players will be included in the team of the tournament. But believe me, Ofir Haim and his actors are not interesting at the moment. Nor where they will play next season, and where their careers will go. All this will have time. What matters right now is only one thing: beating Uruguay, a tough and impressive South American team that has kept the goal locked in four of its five matches in the tournament.
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The 2023 youth team not only reached the top four in the world, it also broke some of the stigmas that have plagued Israeli football over the years. She never breaks, she has no ego issues – and she's a winner. So much so that if Israel wins tonight and qualifies for the final, the whole country will celebrate, but no one will fall out of their seats. And this is perhaps the biggest victory of these young boys.
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