Blue-and-white’s loss to Spain closes out qualifying campaign
Yossi Benayoun made what was likely his final appearance for the Israel national team in Monday’s 1-0 defeat to Spain, but his expected retirement is only one of many contributing factors to the blueand- white’s uncertain future.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Israel dropped to four consecutive defeats, equaling its worse run of losses since joining UEFA in 1992.
Israel’s national soccer team faces an uncertain future after its 2018 World Cup qualification schedule mercifully came to an end on Monday night.The 1-0 loss to a second-string Spain lineup at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem wasn’t that bad in itself. But when considering it was Israel’s fourth defeat in five home matches, and that the side finished the campaign by losing five of six games, scoring just a single goal over that stretch, it is no surprise that coach Elisha Levy’s tenure will not only be short-lived, but also go down among the worst ever in national team history.The Israel Football Association has plenty of time to not only find a new coach, but come up with a long-term plan to ensure the national team will at least hold an outside chance of qualifying for a major tournament for the first time since 1970, with the blueand- white only beginning Euro 2020 qualification in March 2019.Israel’s next competitive matches will be in September 2018 when the UEFA Nations League, a new league competition for national teams, gets under way for the first time. With Israel being drawn with both Spain and Italy in Group G, expectations from Levy’s side were extremely low. But after a relatively encouraging start which included three straight wins over Macedonia, Liechtenstein and Albania, following a 3-1 loss to Italy in the opener, the blue-and-white completely capitulated in the second half of its campaign.Israel dropped to four consecutive defeats, equaling its worse run of losses since joining UEFA in 1992. The streak began with a 4-1 thrashing in Spain in March and was followed by a 3-0 home loss to Albania and last month’s 1-0 defeats to Macedonia and Italy. It was finally snapped with a 1-0 win over Liechtenstein last Friday, but the blue-and-white yet again failed to find the back of the net on Monday, with Asier Illarramendi scoring the only goal of the uneventful encounter in Jerusalem in the 76th minute.