The decision to drop Yossi Benayoun from the Israel squad is a bold one to say the least. Manager Eli Guttman recently threatened not to select players who were not first-choice for their clubs and he has backed up his words with actions.
Israel’s woeful start to their World Cup qualifying campaigns means only six points from the double-header against Luxembourg will be enough to get them back into contention, and it’s refreshing to see Guttman give youth a chance, but it’s certainly something of a gamble as there are very few easy games in international football these days.
If the unthinkable happens and Israel drop points, the consequences for Guttman are unthinkable. Yet to win a match, friendly or competitive, since taking over from Dror Kashtan, he’s hardly taken the world by storm.
Guttman hopes there will be no knee-jerk reactions from the IFA and that they will back their man, but it’s hard to picture an Israel team without Benayoun in it.
I believe Yossi still has plenty to offer and is the just the kind of player he needs to unlock a defence that will be set up to make themselves difficult to break down.
The omission of Tal Ben Haim is understandable as he remains without a club and his match sharpness isn’t where Guttman would want it.
On the flip-side, the progress of the players from Ligat Ha’Al champions Hapoel Kiryat Shmona has been there for all to see. It’s great to see one of Israel’s less fashionable clubs punching above their weight, although I believe it’s only a matter of time until Maccabi Tel Aviv return to the big time following a huge cash injection, which has helped attract several big names to the club.
* There was relief all-round when Boca Jewniors claimed their first-ever win in the JC MSFL last weekend. Player-manager Jamie Weinrich was the toast of the North Herts Arena after his brace inspired them to a 3-1 victory over Loughton Orient. Victory has been a long time coming, 23 games to be exact. They failed to win even once in 18 games in the bottom division, and the joyous scenes at the final whistle were a sight to behold.
Weinrich said: “It has taken a few weeks for our squad to settle and gel, but I have felt throughout this season that the win was coming and it was only a matter of time.
"I believe in the squad that we have and I believe there is more to come from this team. It is more important now than ever that we stay focused on improving as a team and don’t let this victory go to our heads.
"I am proud of all the lads this week who showed great spirit, discipline and determination.”
* Temple Fortune stalwart Jeremy Fess is scheduled to make his 500th appearance for the club on Sunday. The striker is one of Fortune’s longest-serving players. Club chairman Nigel Kyte commented: “It is an epic achievement from a player who first played for the us as long ago as 1984. Jeremy is second only to Co-Founder Peter Kyte on the Club’s all-time appearances list.”
* Congratulations go to up-and-coming football coach Scott Shulton, who has started working with the QPR’s under-15 academy team.