Gutman must stay on, says Awat

By Simon Griver and Danny Caro, October 17, 2013
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Dudu Awat believes Eli Gutman is the right man to lead Israel into the Euro 2016 qualifiers, even though they finished their World Cup campaign with a little more than whimper.

Gutman faces an anxious wait to find out if he will be given a new contract, but it appears two draws against Group F runners-up Portugal should be enough to persuade the IFA.

Israel captain Awat said: "This was not a disappointing campaign, but we could have done more. We still have a good future and there is no need to lose confidence.

"Eli Guttman was excellent and he should keep his job. Third place was our realistic position."

A top three finish in Group F was confirmed before Tuesday’s finale at home to Northern Ireland, so Israel fans were hoping for a performance to remember against a team that was recently beaten by Luxembourg.

Instead, they got a lacklustre display, with the highlight a sixth goal in seven qualifying games from striker Eden Ben Basat.

But that was not enough to earn Israel victory as a 73rd-minute strike from Steven Davis gave the Irish a deserved draw.

Gutman said: "We were very inconsistent in this campaign, but overall, the performances were reasonable."

Israel’s fortunes fluctuated against the top two teams. "Losing 4-0 at home to Russia at the start was a low-point, but from then we progressed and drawing twice with Portugal was an achievement," he said.

"In retrospect, I still feel that we missed a chance to finish the group in second place. And that happened because we didn’t cope well with the pressure."

Ben Basat ended Portugal’s automatic qualification hopes with a late strike in Lisbon after Ricardo Costa had opened the scoring early on.

Real Madrid star Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure in a game in which he picked up a booking. He said: "Israel had two buses behind the ball and when it’s like that, it’s hard to score."

Last updated: 5:22pm, October 17 2013