Luis Fernandez: I'll take Israel to Euro 2012
New manager Luis Fernandez says Israel will make 2012 Euro finals
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Captain Yossi Benayoun hopes new boss Luis Fernandez can help Israel up their game
Luis Fernandez is confident that he can help Israel qualify for the Euro 2012 finals after being appointed manager of the national team.
The 50-year-old Frenchman signed an 18-month contract worth 720,000 euros on Sunday. He will receive an a bonus of 250,000 euros if Israel reaches the finals in Poland and Ukraine.
Speaking from Tel Aviv, Fernandez said: "Israel has always been a team that almost qualifies. I believe we can make it. It will be a difficult task but we have the players to achieve qualification."
Reminded that he was renowned for his fiery temper as manager of Betar Jerusalem, and that he eventually quit because he fell out with the fans, Fernandez said: "Don't worry. This time I will be calmer."
Israel's Euro 2012 qualifying group contains Croatia, Greece, Latvia, Georgia and Malta.
Fernandez will take charge of friendly internationals away to Uruguay and Chile in May and against Ivory Coast in France in August before the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign begins in September.
Israel FA chairman Avi Luzon said: "Luis understands the mentality of Israeli football and nobody will be able to say that he does not know the Israeli game. I believe in him and I'm confident we will all smile on our way to the Euro finals."
Fernandez wants former Israel captain Tal Banin appointed as his assistant manager.
Eli Ohana had been expected to get this job but Fernandez is insistent that he prefers to work with Banin, who played under him in France when he was manager of Cannes.
Fernandez's best achievements as manager were second-place finishes with PSG and Atletico Bilbao. In his playing days, he was a defensive midfielder in the France team which won Euro 2004. Uefa president Michel Platini played alongside Fernandez. Speaking ahead of the Uefa Congress in Tel Aviv, he said: "Luis can make a major contribution to Israeli football."
The appointment also has the backing of Portsmouth manager Avram Grant, who has also held the post. "Everyone must now unite behind Fernandez. He needs everyone's support if he is to succeed."
Eyal Berkovic failed in his bid to land the role. He said: "Fernandez is a good choice but I will still be Israel manager one day."