Host Israel loses to kick off Women’s U19 European Championship
Israel women’s Under-19 coach Guy Azouri
(photo credit: ISRAEL FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION, COURTESY)
"We don’t like to lose, but we played against a global powerhouse,” said Israel coach Guy Azouri.
Despite a valiant effort, Israel suffered a 3-0 defeat to Sweden in its European Women’s Under-19 Championship Group A opener in Lod on Wednesday night.The blue-and-white, playing its first ever match in the tournament, struggled against the physically and technically superior Swedes, who ultimately won with ease thanks to goals from Nathalie Björn (22) and Stina Blackstenius (28, 72).Israel ended the match with 10 players after Shahar Nakav was sent off in the 80th minute, being shown a second yellow card.The Israel squad has trained over the past two years in an academy set up at the Wingate Institute in an attempt to bridge the gap from Europe’s best. However, the hosts could only manage one attempt off target on Wednesday, with Sweden registering 13 attempts, including six on target. “We don’t like to lose, but we played against a global powerhouse,” said Israel coach Guy Azouri, a former men’s coach at Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Beersheba.“Sweden is one of the most physical teams in Europe. We knew there were gaps between the teams and we never denied them. “However, we saw a group of girls who nevertheless competed tonight. We may have struggled to create scoring opportunities, but our team never capitulated. We didn’t give up at any stage. Two years ago we wouldn’t have managed to get out of our own box against a team like this. The girls fought for 90 minutes and I couldn’t ask for anything more from them.”Israel plays France in Netanya in its second group match on Saturday before coming up against Denmark in Lod in its final group game next Tuesday. France beat Denmark 1-0 on Wednesday.The top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals, with the final to be played in Netanya on July 27. Apart from Netanya and Lod, matches are also taking place in Ramla and Rishon Lezion.