Israel has nothing to fear, says Luzon

By Simon Griver, August 4, 2011
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Avi Luzon believes that Israel has nothing to fear after his team were drawn against Portugal and Russia in their World Cup qualifying group for the finals in Brazil in 2014.

Although the draw looks tough, with only the top side qualifying automatically, and the runners-up facing a playoff, Israel FA chairman Luzon was quick to stress that Israel had been fortunate in avoiding the toughest teams including Spain, Germany and Italy.

"The draw could have been easier but it could also have been a lot harder," said Luzon. "We have proved we can handle the Russians. In the Euro 2008 qualifiers, we beat Russia at home and drew in Moscow.

"Portugal with Ronaldo will be interesting but we must take the maximum points off the weaker teams."

Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg complete Group F.

Captain Yossi Benayoun is relishing the challenge. "It is not an easy group and it will be great to play against Portugal," he said. "But it is too soon to discuss what our chances are of reaching the World Cup finals as we must focus on the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

"If we can beat Greece at home next month, we will have a great chance of qualifying."

Israel manager Luis Fernandez has named his strongest possible squad for next week's friendly against the Ivory Coast in Switzerland.

Fernandez said: "The only thing that's really important now is the next qualifier against Greece. "We'll have enough time to think about the World Cup games when the time comes."

    Last updated: 2:29pm, August 4 2011