Under-fire manager Dror Kashtan will not have his contract extended beyond June 2010, unless he can dramatically change Israel’s fortunes later this year.
The 2-1 defeat against Greece left the team in fourth place in their World Cup qualifying group, trailing Greece and Switzerland by four points and a point behind Latvia. It leaves them with little hope of reaching the finals in South Africa.
However, former Liverpool and Spurs star Ronnie Rosenthal believes that not even Jose Mourinho could help Israel reach the finals of a major competition. “You cannot blame Kashtan,” he said. “Israel simply does not have enough good players and without the players there is nothing even the best coach in the world can do.
“The blame lies with the Israel FA who have not brought the game forward. Israel needs a youth academy to develop its young players and foreign consultants should be brought in to help set it up.”
Another former Liverpool star, Avi Cohen, agrees. He said: “Israel has great talent but it is not being developed properly. It is true we are in a weak group but we thought we were better than Greece and Switzerland and we are not.”
Kashtan has refused to talk to journalists since the defeat in Greece while Israel FA chairman Avi Luzon made a brief statement. “I will only discuss the matter of the national team coach at the end of the current campaign,” he said. Asked if Israel will ever qualify for a major competition, he responded angrily. “We have a good chance of reaching Euro 2016 because they are increasing the number of qualifiers from 16 to 24.”
Luzon has reportedly offered the job of national team coach to Avram Grant. The former Chelsea boss was lukewarm but did not give a flat no.
Grant remains eager to manage a top club in England but should Kashtan resign following public criticism he could step in as a caretaker manager. Moreover, if he has still not found employment when Israel begins its Euro 2012 campaign, Grant may be tempted back. Otherwise, Luzon is believed to prefer a foreign coach and he has also taken on board the need to set up a national football academy for the most talented Israeli youth players.