There were quite a few tears yesterday (Thursday) in the dressing room of Israel's youth team, but the professional staff is already making sure to raise the morale of the players towards the upcoming goal - the bronze medal in the World Cup.
Due to the heavy load on the players, most of whom started game after game, and the fatigue was already felt on them in the second half against Uruguay, coach Ofir Haim is considering making a light rotation in the lineup ahead of the game between Sunday and Monday for third place.
"I said after the game that I'm disappointed, because I always want to win, but I retract, I'm not disappointed, I'm happy with where we are and very proud," Ofir Haim said, adding, "We did something special, we connected our dear country, I still have chills in my body. They asked me about the Jews and Arabs here, but we are one big family, we represented the country with honor and I'm proud of this group."
Regarding the Israeli crowd and the thousands of Jews from Argentina who supported the team, he said: "I have no words. I felt that the whole stadium was Israel. I want to say thank you to everyone who was here and to everyone who held our fingers in the country. We spent a lot of time with the Jewish community here. As soon as they took the World Cup from Indonesia I shouted 'yes' not because they took it away because I did want to be in Indonesia, just to be in Argentina and feel close to Maradona and Messi is something else."
Ofir Haim with Dor Turgeman, Photo: AFP
What didn't work for you in the semifinals?
"Everything I say will sound like excuses. It's irrelevant what didn't work. We tried everything, we were also in a great position towards the end of the game but the ball didn't go in. We will correct the mistakes ahead of the third-place game, but what is important is that we represent Israeli football with dignity."
How talented is this generation?
"In this tournament we showed a lot of character and determination. This is the future generation of Israeli football. From this team you have to form the nucleus of the senior team. There are a lot of talented players here. I promised before the World Cup that the world was going to get to know a lot of Israeli players and that's what we did. I knew what we were worth and we believed all the way but we were stopped in the semi-finals."
Ofir Haim. Yesterday, Photo: AP
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Asked what will happen to him in the near future, Haim replied: "I enjoy the moment so much that I don't want to think about the future. I've received offers from a number of teams, but I want to experience the moment because it's something we'll never forget."
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