Guttman Selects National Team
Israel National Team Manager Eli Guttman selected his first squad for the upcoming friendly against the Ukraine. There weren’t many surprises in his call up. Guttman called up 5 players from Israel’s current league leaders Kiryat Shmona. Yossi Benayoun returns and will captain the side against the Ukraine.
Keepers – Dudu Aouate(Mallorca), Dani Amos(Kiryat Shmona)
Defenders – Elad Gabai(Kiryat Shmona), Shir Tzedek(Kiryat Shmona), Tal Ben Haim(Portsmouth), Dekel Keinan(Cardiff), Rami Gershon(Standard Liege), Eitan Tibi(Kiryat Shmona), Dedi Ben Dayan(Omonia), Yuval Spungin(Omonia)
Midfielders – Yossi Benayoun(Arsenal), Eran Zahavi(Palermo), Maor Melikson(Poland), Almog Cohen(Nurnberg), Adrian Rochet(Kiryat Shmona), Lior Rafaelov(Club Brugge), Bibras Natcho(Rubin Kazan)
Forwards – Ben Sahar(Auxerre), Elyaniv Barda(Genk), Omer Damari(Hapoel Tel Aviv), Tal Ben Haim II(Maccabi Petah Tikva), Tomer Hemed(Mallorca)
The positives – Overall it was a good selection. I especially liked the call up of the five Kiryat Shmona players, four of whom are defenders by trade, including the keeper Dani Amos. Kiryat Shmona has allowed only 12 goals in 26 matches this season and the defenders likely have something to do with it. It will be a good opportunity to test themselves against good international players. Tal Ben Haim returns to the side after being absent in Israel’s last match against Malta, over the past few years he has been Israel’s only reliable defender. Israel has a lot of depth at the attacking midfield position with four players called up, this is certainly the main strength of the team.
The negatives – I was disappointed to see Nir Biton in the Under-21 squad and not in the National Team, he is a really big talent and offers some height in a vertically challenged midfield, I think Guttman will eventually be forced to call him up even though we aren’t hurting for midfield options, as he is too good to ignore. The call ups of Yossi Benayoun and Dekel Keinan were not what I was hoping for. Benayoun hasn’t been playing at all for Arsenal and the same with Keinan at Cardiff, both players lack match fitness. I think it is also a bit of a double standard considering other players in the squad probably wouldn’t have been called up if they weren’t seeing playing time. For me Benayoun’s last few outings with National Team have been poor as have Keinan’s. Guttman also called up just one defensive midfielder in Almog Cohen, I would have preferred another defensive midfielder called up like Kobi Moyal, Gal Alberman, Rafi Dahan, Avihai Yadin, or Kobi Dajani. Also the call up of Ben Sahar over Dudu Biton doesn’t make sense. Sahar barely scores at club level, while Biton has been consistent over the last two years, he has yet to make an appearance for the National Football Team.
Conclusion: Although I disagree with certain decisions made, I look forward to seeing how Israel will do against the Ukraine, and hope that Guttman is correct and that I am wrong.