Maccabiah Games - Finals day preview

By Danny Caro, July 22, 2009

Today is the day of reckoning for two of Team GB's finest squads at the 18th Maccabiah Games.

The open football boys take on Argentina in the final at Maccabi Haifa's Kiryat Eliezer Stadium at 6pm local time.

Jonathan Kestenbaum's men have improved as the tournament has gone on. They drew 1-1 with Argentina in the first match of the round robin. Top-scorer Paul Hakim opened the scoring before the South Americans levelled 20 minutes from time.

A poor display against France left them with it all to do but they bounced back in style to beat Brazil 2-0 courtesy of strikes from David Soutar and Hakim.

Victory over the USA in the quarter-finals, with Guy Morris and Hakim on the scoresheet, set GB up for a semi-final clash against Israel. Captain Sam Sloma was the matchwinner with a diving header.

GB last won a medal in open football with bronze in 1969. David Pleat helped them win their only gold in the competition when they beat Israel in 1961. Four years later they took silver.

Looking ahead to the game, Kestenbaum told JC Sport: "Three consecutive clean sheets tells you something about this group of players. They are representing Anglo-Jewry football and we can all be proud of them."

After Monday's nail-biting win over the Israel national Under 19 team, GB have had 24 hours to recover for the final. Kestenbaum said: " Having played five games in eight days, recovery is vital as we know that Argentina are an exceptional side.”

The GB rugby squad have taken the competition by storm. Having never won Maccabiah gold, the boys are focused on the task at hand.

Having beaten Australia in their first match, many believe GB start as favourites with a psychological edge, but you can never underestimate an Australian team at any level.

Fly-half Sam Katz is the leading scorer with 33 points. Averaging 11 points a game, he's fast becoming the Jonny Wilkinson of Jewish rugby.

But heroics from the defence has played a key role in wins over South Africa and America.

With just one more hurdle to bypass for both sets of heroes, this will either be remembered as wonderful or a woeful Wednesday.

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Last updated: 9:24am, July 22 2009