Melikson could be Israel's saviour

By Danny Caro, September 27, 2011
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The phrase 'one-man team' is over-used and over-hyped. However, in the case of Maor Melikson, he faces a big decision over the next few days that could shape the future of Israel football.

Last week Melikson said that he would turn his back on the Israel national team after he was snubbed for two important Euro 2012 qualifiers against Greece and Croatia.

Israel lost both matches and consequently, the defeats ended their hopes of qualifying for the Euro finals.

The player said that he wanted to represent Poland – the homeland of his mother – who qualify for the finals automatically as joint hosts.

However, following a remarkable turn of events, the player is considering his options once more. Ahead of the final match, which is effectively a dead-rubber, Melikson has been invited to play for Israel. Should he accept, he would be something of a talisman, especially with captain Yossi Benayoun out and Tal Ben Haim both missing.

Melikson, 26, has been a revelation since joining Wisla Krakow from Hapoel Beer Sheva in January. He was the driving force in their championship winning side and recently told friends: "My heart wants me to play for Israel. But I'm fed up not being appreciated in Israel so I've chosen to play for Poland. I hope to play in the Euro 2012 finals".

There followed outrage from supporters in Israel and it appears that Melikson is caving in under the pressure. He has been accused of betrayal and says he does not want to play for either team while he thinks things through.

● Another player with a big decision to make is Manchester City's Gai Assulin. The Israeli midfielder, who joined from Barcelona last December, is yet to make his debut at the Etihad Stadium. After missing out on City's Carling Cup squad last week, Assulin, 20, is considering his options. Ipswich Town, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest are among the clubs keeping an eye on the situation with regards to a loan switch.

● Spare a thought for SPEC FC. My tips for the JC MSFL Division Four title face an injury crisis of monumental proportions. Goalkeeper Michael Rhodes was recently ruled out for the season after tearing a cartilage and their injury concerns are piling up after Elliott Wallis' horrendous injury. James Lesner and Laurence Rosenthal look set to miss Sunday's clash against FC Team C through injury.

Wishing you all a happy new year.

    Last updated: 3:14pm, September 27 2011