Watch Israel go, says Guttman

By Simon Griver, September 6, 2012

Eli Guttman is confident Israel can make a winning start when they begin their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign away to Azerbaijan tonight.

Guttman’s squad faces two games in four days with the trip to Bate followed by a home match against Russia in Ramat Gan on Tuesday.

Although the Russians and Portugal are expected to claim the top two places in the group, Guttman believes his players can spring a surprise.

“It’s the start of the season so nobody has played very much and these are professionals who know how to put everything into training,” he said.

“People don’t rate our chances with Russia and Portugal in the group and I think that will work in our favour.”

Israel has struggled for goals in recent campaign, but captain Yossi Benayoun says they now have the firepower to mix it with the best.

Striker Tomer Hemed has scored three goals in the first two weeks of the La Liga season for Real Mallorca after scoring a late equaliser in Israel's friendly last month in Hungary.

Benayoun said: “This is a more talented squad than in the past, especially in attack.”

Israel will be looking to reach their first World Cup finals since 1970, although they will have to do without Celtic star Beram Kayal who has an ankle injury.

Last updated: 4:18pm, September 6 2012