Gutman must stay on, says Awat


Dudu Awat believes Eli Gutman is the right man to lead Israel into the Euro 2016 qualifiers, even though they finished their World Cup campaign with a little more than whimper.

Gutman faces an anxious wait to find out if he will be given a new contract, but it appears two draws against Group F runners-up Portugal should be enough to persuade the IFA.

Israel captain Awat said: "This was not a disappointing campaign, but we could have done more. We still have a good future and there is no need to lose confidence.

"Eli Guttman was excellent and he should keep his job. Third place was our realistic position."

A top three finish in Group F was confirmed before Tuesday’s finale at home to Northern Ireland, so Israel fans were hoping for a performance to remember against a team that was recently beaten by Luxembourg.

Instead, they got a lacklustre display, with the highlight a sixth goal in seven qualifying games from striker Eden Ben Basat.

But that was not enough to earn Israel victory as a 73rd-minute strike from Steven Davis gave the Irish a deserved draw.

Gutman said: "We were very inconsistent in this campaign, but overall, the performances were reasonable."

Israel’s fortunes fluctuated against the top two teams. "Losing 4-0 at home to Russia at the start was a low-point, but from then we progressed and drawing twice with Portugal was an achievement," he said.

"In retrospect, I still feel that we missed a chance to finish the group in second place. And that happened because we didn’t cope well with the pressure."

Ben Basat ended Portugal’s automatic qualification hopes with a late strike in Lisbon after Ricardo Costa had opened the scoring early on.

Real Madrid star Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure in a game in which he picked up a booking. He said: "Israel had two buses behind the ball and when it’s like that, it’s hard to score."

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