National Team Pool – Forwards
On March 3rd, Israel’s National Team will play Romania in a friendly game. Each week leading up to the game, I will be taking a look at Israel’s options for the respective positions of forward, midfielder, defender, and goalkeeper. This week we’ll be taking a look at the forward position. Israel has a variety of options at this position, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you see it.
-Elyaniv Barda was Israel’s leading scorer last campaign, and has the international experience that Israel needs in big games. Although his goal scoring at Racing Genk has curtailed after his first season, he is still an integral member of his club, and is a solid performer. Barda is well rounded and is an asset to the National Team.
-Although he hasn’t played much for Espanyol this season, Ben Sahar has been playing for the National Team since he was seventeen. He is also the most physically gifted of Israel’s forwards and has very good speed. Who can forget his performance against Greece in the last campaign?
-Maccabi Haifa wouldn’t be running away with Ligat Ha’al this season without the services of Shlomi Arbeitman. After debuting for the National Team in 2004 and scoring three goals; he failed to live up to his touted potential for club and country. This season he is the leading scorer in Ligat Ha’al and is the best pure center forward that is available to the National Team.
-Another player that has taken time live up to his potential is Itay Shechter, Shechter was inconsistent at his last club, Maccabi Netanya. Since his tranfer to Hapoel Tel-Aviv, he has been a dependable attacking threat. In the Europa League he has shown he is capable of performing against good competition, but he still has been prone to disappearing during games.
–Yaniv Katan has always put in great performances for Maccabi Haifa, but his commitment to the National Team has been questioned in the past. Even though he is listed as a striker, Katan has always been more of an attacking midfielder than a goalscorer. So it is very possible that he could be playing next campaign, but not as a striker. Katan has continuously improved as a player, he is good dribbler, passes the ball well, and is a physical presence on the ball.
-One of the most exciting players available to the National Team is Barak Itzhaki. Itzhaki was called up often, but didn’t always play last campaign. In these upcoming qualifiers, it appears that he will have more competition for the same spot. Itzhaki is a good passer and has scored some spectacular goals, but he has struggled with finishing at times. If he moves to a bigger club in the summer it could help his chances with National team.
-A foreign born player, Roberto Colautti, was Israel’s leading scorer in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. Roberto missed most of the World Cup qualifiers to injury, but recently he has helped his cause to be called up. He has put in good performances for his club recently, and is being linked with a move to Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the summer, where he could get more playing time.
On the Outside Looking In
-He played a lot during the last campaign, but the new coach will have a hard time justifying a call up of Omer Golan. Golan has seen almost no playing time at his current club, and he will have to compete against in form players who are better physically and skill wise.
-Once given the starting role against England, Toto Tamuz has not been mentioned by observers for some time. I didn’t even list him in Israel’s Top 10 Young Players . He was once linked with Bayern Munich, but for the moment is plying his trade at Beitar Jerusalem where he has scored nine goals this season so far. Tamuz is a good player but lacks anything that makes him outstanding.