Cyprus' Dimitris Christofi, front, challenges for the ball with Israel's Eytan Tibi during the Euro 2016 qualifying match between Cyprus and Israel, at the GSP stadium, in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Israel beat Cyprus 2-1 when the sides met in October, a similar result will see Israel all but guarantee a play-off tie

by Andrew Sherwood

NEXT WEEK’S back page of the Jewish News will – hopefully – report on Israel securing a play-off tie for next summer’s European Championships. A topsy-turvy qualifying campaign that began with three wins was followed by three losses, before a win over Andorra and a much more impressive 0-0 draw in Wales, when Eli Guttman took a leaf out of Jose Mourinho’s book (back from his heyday) by parking the proverbial bus out in Cardiff. Disciplined, tactical and deliberate, they now need to back that performance up with at least one more big one on Saturday night, when they host Cyprus. A win there, coupled with Bosnia failing to beat Wales in Zenica will guarantee them third spot in Group B – and that play-off place – leaving them to end their campaign in Brussels with the pressure well and truly off. That will then leave them facing the luck of the draw, with one more final two-legged tie standing between their place in France next summer and a first ever appearance at a [senior] European Championships. Best possible draw would see them face the likes of Slovenia, Estonia or Albania. Worst case scenario would be a Holland, Croatia or Sweden. Cyprus though of course need to be taken care of first.

THE LAST thing Jewish football needed was another team folding, just one week after last season’s Division Three champions, London Rovers called it a day. So it was with baited breath that I opened an email which appeared in my inbox from Brixton Old Boys, a club which was already rumoured to be struggling, just five weeks into the new season. Those rumours were the subject of the email, though fortunately on this occasion it was to dismiss them, and to confirm that the club, after a shaky start in terms of personnel in their squad, had replenished their numbers and were looking forward to the season ahead. Saying they’re looking forward to staying in the League, I can safely say they’re not the only ones.