November 12, 2016, the Israeli team goes to an away game in Albania as part of the World Cup qualifiers in Russia. It was perhaps the team’s most tense trip to an away game. Intelligence sources reported a suspected ISIS attack. The team had more security guards than players on the flight. The game is being moved from Tirana to the city of Albans to get as far away from the danger focus as possible in neighboring Kosovo. Elisha Levy’s team is not thrilled by the security pressure and defeats Albania 0: 3, which six months later will beat us by the same result in Israel and prove that the game at Albsen was probably the team’s biggest away game in many years.
It is true that a year ago Eran Zehavi defeated Slovakia with a hat-trick away, but that was only in the League of Nations, an enterprise that has not yet been taken seriously. If one is looking for Israel’s last major foreign victory it was achieved then in Albsen almost five years ago. Eran Zehavi was the first to score with a penalty, followed by Dan Einbinder and Eliran Atar with the third. The Albanians were sent off two players during the game, which made the job easier.
Now the Israeli team needs a victory at Hampden Park. The Temple of the Scots. Hampden Park is one of the oldest stadiums in the world. It was inaugurated in October 1903, exactly 118 years ago and on its turf the team will have to do what it does not know how to do, win outside in a big and significant game.
That victory over Albania five years ago, no matter how big, was achieved in a house that Israel and Albania had no chance of in advance. Spain and Italy played with us in the same house, so the pre-draw was a death. This time it’s a game that could settle for second place and a playoff. Dor Peretz said yesterday that it would not be a flicker if Israel finished second and went into a quarrel over a place in Qatar 2022 with other teams, but the burden of proof is on him and his friends. Until the team does not beat an away game in money time, the question mark around its ability to come in the moment of truth and take three points in a decisive away game and against a team at least at its level, will continue to hover.
If that victory over Albania in Albania was achieved at home where there was no chance in advance, three years earlier in 2013 Israel achieved a foreign victory in Northern Ireland against an opponent equal to Israel and in a very decisive game. It was the sixth round of the World Cup qualifiers in Brazil. Lior Rapalov and Eden Ben Best won the team and settled 0: 2. The illusion of the World Cup in Brazil was shattered immediately afterwards with a home draw against Azerbaijan and a loss to Russia. But in 2013, similar to what is happening now, we were closest to dreaming of a place in the World Cup thanks to that victory in Northern Ireland.
We are not far from marking 30 years since the big game in Paris against France. From that game in 1993 until that victory in Northern Ireland in 2013, the team has not had any impressive away wins over quality rivals and moments of truth. We defeated Andorra, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein, Cyprus and another list of teams that do not excite anyone.
A win over Scotland in Glasgow, in a game that all of Scotland is excited about, will probably be the biggest thing the Israeli team will do since that evening at the Parc de France. There will be three more games left to do the job, including one in Klagenfurt against Austria at the stadium where Maccabi Tel Aviv drew against Lusk Linz last week, but at least we will be in the picture and live until next month with the dream, hoping not to float against Moldova and lose to Turner next week. It would be the most symbolic and funny if Willy Rotensteiner, one of the coaches who received the most reviews here, would also be the one to close the World Cup circle that has been open for 51 years.
Source: Maariv.co.il – כדורגל ישראלי by sport1.maariv.co.il.
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