FBL-EURO-2016-ISR-BEL

Orel Dgani knows Israel’s hopes of securing automatic qualification for next year’s European Championships in France now hang in the balance

THIS TIME last week, Israel were flying high at the top of their Euro 2016 qualifying table having won their opening three games. Two games – and two defeats – later, they have now dropped down to third in Group B and face a potential battle to stay there, never mind to challenge for a top-two spot which would guarantee them automatic qualification to France next summer. While no one was getting carried away with their 100 percent winning start, the way they performed against Wales, and Belgium until Vincent Kompany was sent-off, doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the campaign. Next up is a must-win game in Bosnia, lose that and the 46-year wait to reach a major football tournament will become at least 48.

IT’S NOT OFTEN that a Maccabi League football match gets abandoned, so when it does it’s inevitably over something serious. And that was the case on Sunday when Harmen’s Premier Division match against FC Team A was stopped in the 75th minute when James Gershfield, in scoring a goal, was clattered into by the FC Team goalkeeper, leaving him unconscious. An unfortunate accident, Harmen’s Joel Alterman said: “It wasn’t a bad challenge, the ball was there to be won and it’s very unfortunate. The referee and FC Team were all excellent while it was going on and offered their help any way they could.” Fortunately, while feeling a bit groggy 24 hours after the incident, it’s hoped that he’ll be back playing in a couple of weeks’ time, possibly for the side’s Peter Morrison Cup semi-final.

PROVING THAT age is no barrier, Stuart Lustigman, chairman of the Masters League, turned out for Temple Fortune’s masters side against St John’s Wood Tigers on Sunday. Still going strong at 70 years of age, the former Faithfold and Marshside player became the club’s oldest ever player, and possibly the league’s, and by all accounts held his own against much younger opposition. An inspiration to us all.