Israel close to announcing new manager

By Simon Griver, March 18, 2010

FOOTBALL Luis Fernandez and Winfried Schäfer are the frontrunners to replace Dror Kashtan as the national manager of Israel.

With IFA chairman Avi Luzon determined to make a high-profile appointment from outside of Israel, the pair have been invited for interviews with Fernandez scheduled to visit the Ramat Gan headquarters on Sunday.

Fernandez, 50, has managed PSG, Atletico Bilbao, Espanyol and Real Betis, is seen as the clear favourite. He also has experience of Israeli club management on his CV, having steered Betar Jerusalem to third in Ligat Ha'al in 2005/06.

In the guise of a defensive midfielder, Fernandez was part of the French Euro 1984 winning team. He is playing coy about filling the post after launching a campaign to manage France after the World Cup. However, sources close to Fernandez say that he understands he is too far down the pecking order to get the France job, and a successful spell in charge of Israel could be the ideal platform for a later bid.

Schäfer, 60, who won the African Nations Cup with Cameroon in 2002, has been more straightforward about his desire to manage Israel. He said: "Israel is a good team and I would be very interested in the job if it was offered to me."

Roberto Donadoni, the former manager of Italy, withdrew his candidacy after it became clear that the Israel FA had greatly scaled down the salary on offer. The next Israel manager will receive an 18-month contract worth 600,000 Euros with a bonus and two-year extension if Israel reaches the Euro 2012 finals.

The dates of Israel's fixtures for the Euro 2012 qualifiers will be drawn next week at the Uefa Congress in Tel Aviv after Israel, Greece, Croatia, Latvia, Georgia and Malta were unable to agree their own fixture list.

Last updated: 4:55pm, March 18 2010