Watch the Israel national under-20 team return to the hotel after losing in the semifinals of the World Cup (Shlomo Weiss)
After beating Brazil in the quarter-finals, during the celebrations, Yam Kanzpolski looked into the camera and said: "When will they believe in us? Every time we are eulogized and we prove anew." Kanzpolski was right, because until that game against Brazil, it was not like that - but beyond the victory over Brazil, professional superiority made the public's level of faith in the team insane, such that everyone talked about Israel can and should finish the World Cup with the cup.
Reaching the semi-finals led to Israeli and Jewish fans mobilizing for the national team, other media outlets came to Argentina and the hype became much bigger – one that may have had a negative impact on the players. Still, this is the greatest achievement of this team, the fact that in the semi-finals of the World Cup everyone believed that they could do it and even take a trophy. Before the tournament, the prevailing opinion was that you don't get past the first round, long live the small difference.
It was difficult for the team against Uruguay, they saw a mirror image of themselves with more motivation. Uruguay is aggressive, smart, but with the enthusiasm and emotion that is so characteristic of this people. The crying of its players at the end said it all, both in the level of achievement and in their attitude towards football, the love and madness that always make you fall in love with the sports figures who come from this country.
Long live the small difference before and after the tournament. Lemkin and his players (Photo by Getty Images, Eurasia Sport Images)
And with all the joy, we should not cultivate over-expectations. It's a rare yearbook, not at the level of talent, there were more talented than him who didn't make it to the European Championship, it's just a yearbook with character and a connection between coach and players that doesn't happen every day. It may be that this connection requires that Ofir Haim be given credit for this yearbook in the young team as well, but first there is the European Championship under Guy Luzon, and after that it will be possible to be smarter.
From here the pressure will shift to the Luzon Valley. It won't be easy, after the World Cup the expectations from the young team are growing, not sure rightly but this is the reality. Ofir Haim has become the baby of the country and Guy Luzon is in another slot, but if he makes his players come to the tournament with the same commitment, focus and wisdom that the youth team brought to the World Cup, maybe he too will bring the young team to a place it was not.
Luzon adds four players from Ofir Haim's squad to the Euros. As for Stav Lemkin and Or Israelov, this is not a simple story. The two went through a full season with Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israelov finished the season with a minor injury, they will land in Israel and continue with the young team to Georgia, and when they finish they will have to open training with Hapoel Tel Aviv. This is not a simple burden that requires consultation by the physiological teams of Hapoel Tel Aviv and the national team.
- Israeli football
- Israeli national teams
- Israel national team