THE FUTURE of Israeli football lies once more in the hands of Eli Guttman. The Israeli Football Association has confirmed he’ll be leading the team for another two years, which will hopefully result in him leading them to the 2016 European Championships – and qualification for a first football tournament since 1970. That may seem a bit of an ask, and while he hasn’t as yet delivered on the pitch, he’s certainly saying the right things off it. Speaking after his contract extention was announced, he said: “The honour and the challenges that come with the job are well known to me, and will bind me and the players”. The 55-year-old led Israel to third in their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, and has set his sights on what many view to be a near-impossibilty. “Our goal is to be part of the EUROs in 2016, nothing less,” he said. “We will wait for next month’s draw and then we will know a lot more. I want to promise the fans in Israel that the team under my guidance will be a source of pride for us all.” Time will tell.
FULL MARKS to the Chilean Football Association who have acted swiftly-ish in banning top-flight club Palestino from wearing a shirt that has the number one shaped as the map of Palestine, before the creation of Israel. The launch of the top was met with complaints from Jewish organisations, amongst others, and they as a result, have banned the shirt and fined the Santiago-based club £800.
MORE HISTORY was made on the basketball court at the weekend when two Israelis came head-to head. It may have been a meaningless pre-season friendly between the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, but it was notable as Omri Casspi and Gal Mekel, the first and second Israelis to ever play in the NBA respectively, squared up against each other. The Rockets won 100-95, but it was the sharing of the court of the national teammates which was the stand-out highlight.