With the start of the UEFA U21 European Championships in Israel just hours away, Avi Luzon, the president of the Israeli Football Association has spoke of “a special day” as representatives of the hosts, UEFA and seven opposing teams celebrated the start of the tournament.
Welcoming the competing countries – including England – in Netanya, Luzon, who’s also a UEFA Executive Committee member, said: “We are anxious to show the world our warm, modern and great country while hosting this prestigious tournament, organising this tournament will reap a lot of fruit for Israel and a lot of our guests will go away and speak about a country which can host sport at the highest level.”
The 14-day tournament gets underway today, when Israel host Norway in Netanya (5pm KO; UK time) and will see games staged in Netanya, Petah Tikva, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Complimenting the Israeli Football Association for their work behind-the-scenes in getting the tournament ready,
UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti, said: “I hope it will be a true festival of football which strengthens the tradition of the U21s”.[divider]
Looking ahead to his side’s opener against Norway, Israel manager Guy Luzon said: “Norway have beaten France in the play-offs and that tells you everything you need to know about the level of their team. They are very physical and they will give Italy and England a tough game. The weather will be fine and it will not be a factor. They are favourites for the match but it will not change our attacking style which we showed in the pre-tournament matches.
I am not afraid of anyone, any team or any player. I don’t know any players from the other teams and I focus only on my team. This is my way and I see no reason to change it – knowing too much sometimes makes the players afraid, instead of aware.
If you know this guy is from Barcelona you play differently. On a personal level I am really excited but equally aware. My team is very relaxed and not stressed because we know we have done all that is needed to be as ready as we can be.”
Be sure to check back for comprehensive coverage of the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship in Israel with the Jewish News