Every dream has an end, every tournament has an elimination and the Israeli under-20 team went as far as it could but was stopped in the semifinals. A small goal by Duarte in the 61st minute was enough for Uruguay to win 0-1 and secure their ticket to the final and send Israel into a game for a respectable third place.
On 21 May, the Israeli national team opened its games at the FIFA U-20 World Championship. They led against Colombia, played well, but conceded a goal in extra time and lost 2:1. The result, and especially the road to it, was almost categorized as a typical Israeli team – one that brings with it expectations, but fails to meet them.
Yesterday, nearly three weeks after that game, Ofir Haim's team recorded its last highlight moment against Uruguay – a historic moment that left no one indifferent. "Thank you! You moved an entire country," President Herzog wrote on Twitter, making no mistake.
Turgeman subdues the Colombia goalkeeper from the white spot. Who thought we'd make it half?, Photo: AFP
A lot of faith and ability
Until yesterday, the young group in blue and white shattered myths and clichés about Israeli football and footballer. She came back from ten players behind against Japan, scoring in the 92nd minute, beating Uzbekistan in the 97th minute and stunning Brazil in the quarter-finals by beating them 2-3 when they twice came back from behind and missed two penalties.
With a lot of self-belief, and no less a lot of ability, the youth team dreamed realistically and not unexpectedly of lifting the trophy. And even though it won't be hoisted, this team broke a lot of things we thought we knew about ourselves.
Israel arrived at the game against Uruguay after hovering on a cloud for several days. The victory over Brazil took her story to new heights and put her in the heart of the mainstream.
Ofir Haim and Dor Turgeman. The magic journey is over, photo: AFP
This victory brought with it many compliments and expectations, but also a lot of eyes and a new Israeli audience. In the days between Brazil and Uruguay, Israeli fans from all over Argentina, South America and Israel came to Buenos Aires. The nuclear families of the players who have been here since day one have also been joined by members of the second circle – uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, friends and girlfriends – all with the same desire: to be part of history
At the same time, young travelers, guys a year or two older than the players, worked day and night to arrange props, transportation, special shirts and anything that could help the team on the pitch. These are very special days. Days when Israeli football makes history, days when the Israeli national team is in the semifinals of the World Cup, days when the whole country unites behind youth aged 18-20. Special days, which in any case were recorded in the annals of Israeli sports throughout the ages. It's fun to have won.
The hottest sports articles and updates on your Telegram
Senior and Maturo. War in Argentina, photo: AFP
Wrong? We'll fix it! If you find a mistake in the article, please share with us