(This post is dedicated to those extremists, racists or just plain ignorant who wish to boycott the Jewish state. Also, please do the poll at the bottom as to who you’d like to see win the tournamount. This piece has also been posted at CiFWatch)
We are under three weeks away from the start of the UEFA Under 21 Football Championships in Israel and on Tuesday Stuart Pearce announced his England squad which is full of exciting players who will be using the tournamount to try to force their way into the England first team.
Eight teams qualified for Israel 2013 and they have been drawn into two groups:
Group A: Israel, England, Italy, Norway.
Group B: Spain, Germany, Holland, Russia.
England will play Italy in Tel Aviv on June 5th, Norway in Petah Tikvah on June 8th and Israel in Jerusalem on June 11th.
In the semi-finals the winners of Group A play the runners up of Group B and the runners up of Group A will play the winners of Group B. The final will be in Israel’s capital Jerusalem on June 18th.
Sky Sports are due to show every game in the tournamount live.
It will be exciting to see Wigan’s Callum McManaman linking up with Wilfred Zaha (soon to be going to Manchester United) and a good test to see how the players cope in 80 degrees heat with the prospect of World Cup Finals in Brazil in 2014 and Qatar in 2022.
It will also be a good test for Israel’s youngsters who will be trying to break into Israel’s first team. Israeli football is as strong as it has ever been. Israel’s first team are currently 2nd in their World Cup qualifying group for Brazil 2014 and were not far away from qualifying for the World Cup Finals in South Africa in 2010.
It will be interesting to see the Avi Cohens, Ronny Rosenthals, Eyal Berkovics and Yossi Benayouns of the future.
One would expect a Spain v Germany final but let’s hope for it being England v Israel with England winning the final on penalties!
Finally, the England Squad for Israel 2013 is:
Goalkeepers: Butland (Stoke), Steele (Middlesbrough), Rudd (Norwich)
Defenders: Caulker (Tottenham), Clyne (Southampton), Dawson (West Brom), Lees (Leeds), Rose (Sunderland, loan from Tottenham), Shaw (Southampton), Smith (Tottenham), Wisdom (Liverpool)
Midfielders: Chalobah (Watford, loan from Chelsea), Henderson (Liverpool), Ince (Blackpool), Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Lowe (Blackburn), McEachran (Chelsea), McManaman (Wigan Athletic), Shelvey (Liverpool), Townsend (QPR, loan from Tottenham)
Forwards: Zaha (Crystal Palace, loan from Manchester United), Marvin Sordell (Bolton), Connor Wickham (Sunderland)