| TEL AVIV
TEL AVIV Dec 27 The Israel Football
Association unveiled home-born Eli Guttman as national coach on
Tuesday in place of Frenchman Luis Fernandez, and said he was
the most popular choice the team had ever had.
Guttman, 53, has a reputation for being a methodical and
meticulous tactician and was the only candidate considered for
the position. He received unanimous backing from the 11-member
IFA board, initially on a two-year deal.
Fernandez's contract officially ends at the end of the year.
"I don't believe there has ever been such concensus over the
choice of a coach as there is with Eli, everybody in the
country, administrators, coaches, players and fans think he is
the right man for the job," said Israeli FA chairman Avi Luzon.
Guttman's first task will be to prepare for a home
international friendly against Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine on
Feb. 29, and to formulate a squad for the Brazil 2014 World Cup
qualifying campaign that begins in September.
Israel have been drawn in European qualifying group F with
Portugal, Russia, Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland and Luxembourg.
They have qualified for a major finals only once, the 1970 World
Cup finals in Mexico.
"This team's main code will be honour and respect, there
will be no egos in the dressing room. It will always adhere to a
playing system that I will determine because only through a
disciplined system of play will it be possible to narrow the
gaps against opposition such as Russia and Portugal," Guttman
The Israeli has coached many clubs in a 33-year career and
began as an understudy to Shlomo Scharf, Israel's
longest-serving coach between 1992-99 during their initial
period in the European fray.
He had most success coaching Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Tel
Aviv, clubs with whom he has won two league championships and
three State Cups. He also coached Cypriot sides Paralimni and
Fernandez, who was appointed in May 2010, was not retained
after they finished eight points behind group F winners Greece
in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.
The Frenchman was heavily criticised in the Israeli media,
which said he had failed to establish a stable squad and made
frequent and unorthodox changes to his lineups.
(Writing by Ori Lewis)