ISRBEL

Israel players at the Kotel ahead of their vital clash against Belgium. Picture: IFA

Israel’s footballers have been preparing for tomorrow nigh’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Belgium by paying a visit to the Western Wall.

Needing at least a point to realistically stay in contention for a top-two finish in the group, which would guarantee them automatic qualification for next year’s European Championshsips in France, the players took time out ahead of the match in Jerusalem as they donned tefillin and no doubt prayed for a better outcome than their 3-0 defeat by Wales on Saturday night.

However, optimism isn’t that high right now, with midfielder Bebras Natkho saying: “We won’t be disappointed with a draw.”

Israel’s veteran defender, captain Tal Ben Haim will be celebrating his 33rd birthday but, three days after facing Bale, the Charlton man gets a match-up against Christian Benteke and Eden Hazard as a birthday present.

Belgium meanwhile are in bullish mood as they go in search of the win which will send them to the top of the table. Going into the game on the back of a 5-0 win over Cyprus on Saturday, coach Marc Wilmots is hoping to bottle that performance and repeat it in Israel.

He said: “We will not change our philosophy to face Israel, we will be well ordered and well organised. We are second in the group and we are coming back. We have to win and nothing else.”