Israeli team in disarray

By Danny Caro and Simon Griver, September 8, 2011
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Misery: Luis Fernandez

Misery: Luis Fernandez

The Israel FA was this week left mopping up the mess after the national team saw their Euro 2012 hopes crushed with back-to-back defeats against Greece and Croatia.

A 1-0 defeat at home to Greece on Friday left Israel needing to win in Zagreb on Tuesday night. On the flight to Croatia, it was reported that captain Yossi Benayoun and defender Tal Ben Haim almost came to blows. We understand that assistant-coach Tal Banin was forced to intervene.

The pair put their differences to one side during the game in which Tomer Hemed put Israel in front. But second half strikes from Spurs midfielder Luka Modric and two from Eduardo, the ex-Arsenal star, were sandwiched in between a red card for Ben Haim.

Now the future of manager Luis Fernandez lies in the balance with many believing that he will not be offered a contract extension.

Eli Guttman is now the clear favourite to take over from Fernandez.

"The result was a disappointment for the players because they were the best team in the first half," Fernandez said. "We controlled the game but it changed after Dudu Awat went off injured and Ben Haim was sent off."

Benayoun said: "In the end we did not take a single point from Croatia and Greece, so we didn't deserve to progress."

Eyal Berkovic, the former Israel midfielder, who is also a candidate for the managerial post, said: "This was Israel's worst-ever campaign. We were suckers because Croatia and Greece are only mediocre teams and that was clear during the first half on Tuesday.

"We failed even though I don't ever remember Israel having such a strong collection of players."

Benayoun will be looking to put his disappointment behind him tomorrow when he is set to make his debut for Arsenal against Swansea following his loan move from Chelsea.

    Last updated: 1:17pm, September 8 2011