THEY MAY only be three games into their campaign – and still have six to play, but Israel are sitting pretty at the top of their qualifying group – and it’s not often you can say that. Three wins from three and having a game in hand on their nearest rivals, their win on Sunday evening over Bosnia & Herzegovina was though more about getting the three points. The atmosphere in the new Sammy Ofe stadium in Haifa was electric, the belief emanating from the players at the full-time whistle was gratifying, and the celebrations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu post-match were joyous scenes to behold. However, before anyone gets carried away, the hard work is only just beginning. Next up for Eli Gutman’s side is a home double-header against Gareth Bale’s Wales side, followed up three days later by group favourites Belgium. Take at least four points from those two games, and then the Israelis can really start believing.
IF GUTMAN can lead Israel to France in two years’ time, he’d have gone one step better than Avram Grant managed with the national side. Grant though it seems is about to have his mind on the fortunes on another national team as he’s finally set to be named the new coach of Ghana. There is though one remaining problem, now that his salary’s been sorted out, and that’s how he’s going to enter some of the Arab countries, bearing in mind he’s Israeli. However, while remaining coy on the matter, the President of the Ghanaian Football Association says he’s come up with an ‘alternative’ soloution’. And while not wishing to disclose what that was, he said: “He has brought an alternative way of dealing with it. There is a satisfactory arrangement to arrest his threat. Very soon, in a matter of months, we should clear that”. Think we’re all waiting with baited breath to see what that is.