Tag Archives: UEFA

Wonderful Welsh Army invades Israel.

Israel lost 3-0 at home to Wales on Saturday night at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa and I was there in the away end with 1000 singing Welsh fans courtesy of Swansea City-mad Michael Plosker.

It was a dreadful result for Israel’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign but for two hours I was entertained by the warmth, humour and courtesy of the Welsh travelling army.

Four of us drove north together for the game. Swansea Mike was at the wheel, his son Honest Reporting Simon was next to him and I was in the back with fellow blogger Melchett Mike.

As we drove north it was raining quite heavily. The first concern of us four princes was that we will get soaked through and end up with flu.

The second talking point was that a wet pitch would make for a quicker game which would favour Wales especially with the blistering pace of Gareth Bale down the flanks.

We were proved right on that second point (probably on the first one also). Bale scored twice and two mistimed tackles on him in the space of a minute by an Israeli defender ended with the defender being sent off.

The problem with the Sammy Ofer stadium for Israel is that as stunning as it is there is a lack of atmosphere to benefit the home team. Maybe because Haifa is the most mixed town in Israel with Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs living side by side in relative peace and harmony.

That said, the Welsh supporters were amazing. They sang their own anthem with passion and during Hatikvah they remained silent and applauded when it ended.

Speaking to some Welsh fans after the game they said they loved coming to Israel eventhough they had been apprehensive at first due to the way Israel is reported by the British media

Meanwhile, they sang self-deprecating songs throughout the match and another song that I have not been able to shift from my head all day the words of which are:

Don’t take me home,
Please don’t take me home,
I just don’t want to go to work,
I want to stay here, drink all the beer,
Please don’t, please don’t take me home.

Here it is with the Welsh supporters in full flow outside the stadium before kick-off but first here is your fact of the day:

The word “Ulpan” is the name of the course used by both the Welsh and the Israelis to teach their respective languages. The Welsh course is based on the Kibbutz model for teaching Hebrew.

Photos from a great night:

Football United.

Football United.

More Unity.

More Unity.

Swansea-mad Michael.

Swansea-mad Michael.

A confident Israel.

A confident Israel.

Supporting both.

Supporting both.

The Fab Four on Tour.

The Fab Four on Tour.

Waiting for the teams to enter.

Waiting for the teams to enter.

Engrossed in the match.

Engrossed in the match.

Too much sun or alcohol?

Too much sun or alcohol?

Welsh team celebrate their first goal.

Welsh team celebrate their first goal.

Police Wales keeping an eye out.

Police Wales keeping an eye out.

Relaxed dress code.

Relaxed dress code.

Wales players come over to applaud their supporters after the final whistle.

Wales players come over to applaud their supporters after the final whistle.

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England left crushed by Israel’s winning goal in Jerusalem.

Israel Defence Forces soldiers having fun before the Israel v England game.

Israel Defence Forces soldiers having fun before the Israel v England game.

England’s Under-21 football team, already eliminated from the UEFA Under-21 Finals in Israel after losing their first two games, were beaten 1-0 by Israel in Jerusalem’s Teddy Kolleck stadium to be left bottom of their group having achieved no points and having scored just one goal in their three group games (and that goal was from the penalty spot).

Israel also finally went out having won one, drawn one and lost one, although it all could have been so different had they not conceded a last minute equaliser against Norway in their first game. England left the tournamount in disarray which doesn’t bode well for the future of England’s senior team.

Over 22,000 fans in Israel’s capital Jerusalem watched a first half in which both teams matched each other but with neither side being able to finish. However, Israel stepped up a gear towards the end of the game and struck the bar with a dipping shot from 30 yards out and then almost chipped the England goalkeeper who found himself stranded before Israel finally crashed the ball home with just ten minutes left to the delight of the home fans.

Here are Israel’s fans celebrating the winning goal:

More scenes from inside the stadium in Jerusalem:

Israel's goalkeeper clears the ball as Israel go on the attack.

Israel’s goalkeeper clears the ball as Israel go on the attack.

Yours truly with Cifwatch's Adam Levick at half time during the game.

Yours truly with Cifwatch‘s Adam Levick at half time during the game.

Wearing the scarf with pride.

Wearing the scarf with pride.

Aston Villa on your.

Aston Villa on your.

Water melon being served up at the game.

Water melon being served up at the game.

The lads.

The lads.

Supporting both sides.

Supporting both sides.

The Israeli team celebrates at the end of the game.

The Israeli team celebrates at the end of the game.

England announces squad for Israel 2013.

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(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.

2013_UEFA_European_Under-21_Football_Championship

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)