Historic achievement earns Ofir Haim's men a ticket to next year's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia; Blue and Whites are set to face an unbeaten French side next.
Source: Ynet News
Israel's national youth soccer team made history on Saturday night by qualifying for the semi-final of the 2022 UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Slovakia.
This is the first Israeli side to have advanced so far in the competition. Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper congratulated the young players on their achievement.
"You brought determination and winning spirit to the pitch and proved what true winners you are," Tropper said in a statement.
The team’s coach Ofir Haim told public broadcaster Kan on Sunday that it was an "extremely exciting" achievement. "It's unprecedented," he added.
The team finished second in their group despite losing 1-0 to England on Saturday. The Blue and Whites are set to play their next match on Tuesday against France, who are undefeated in the tournament so far and have qualified after a 4-1 thrashing of Italy.
Haim noted that despite his men facing a serious challenge in the upcoming match, they have managed to eke out a draw against the French on a number of occasions in the past, adding that Israeli players could “make up with intellect and wisdom” for what they are lacking in speed and physical ability compared to their European rival.
The other semifinal will see Italy play England. By reaching the semifinal the Israelis also earned booked a berth in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which is set to be held next year in Indonesia.