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Last chance saloon for Israel

    Tal Ben Haim says Israel has not given up hope of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil ahead of the double-header against Portugal and Northern Ireland.

    Israel goes into today’s must-win Group F game in Lisbon five points behind a Portugal team featuring in-form Real Madrid star Ronaldo.

    A heavy defeat in Russia means Israel now have only a mathematical chance of progressing to the playoffs. Only two Israeli victories and a shock win by Luxembourg in Portugal would see the Israelis take the second place in the group, with Russia on course to win it.

    Ben Haim said: "Even when we play in matches like this, when all hope is gone, we still give 100 per cent when we put on the national team shirt."

    Israel has no major injury problems, but captain Yossi Benayoun remains out of the squad after failing to find a new club after his Chelsea contract expired in the summer.

    The Israel FA directors are divided on the future of manager Eli Guttman who is looking for a contract extension ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifiers, so the performances in the upcoming matches could tilt the balance one way or another.

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