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Israel's wait to learn the identity of Dror Kashtan's long-term successor as national team coach ended on Sunday when former France midfielder Luis Fernández was unveiled.
Fernández, 50, will take up his position on 1 May ahead of friendlies away to Chile and Uruguay at the end of that month. "We are very happy that Fernández will be the Israel national team coach. I think he is the best choice from among the coaches we could have picked," said Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon, who has secured Fernández's services until the end of 2011.
Fernández said: "I am delighted to have agreed to coach the Israel national team. Guiding the team to qualification for the next EURO will be a great challenge for me. Israel has a lot of talent and I am certain the team will do well. I know Israeli football and recognise the progress that has been made here."
A member of France's 1984 UEFA European Championship-winning team, Fernández has been tasked with leading Israel through a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying group that contains Croatia, Greece, Latvia, Georgia and Malta. "There are many things to do, there is an objective, which is to take the Israel team to the European Championship and I am determined to achieve this," Fernández said.
Israel have reached a major competition finals only once – the 1970 FIFA World Cup – and Luzon believes the man who coached Beitar Jerusalem FC in 2005/06 can end the long wait for a major finals. "He understands the mentality of Israeli soccer and nobody will be able to say that he does not know the Israeli game," Luzon said. "I believe in him and I'm sure we will all be smiling on our way to the EURO finals."
Kashtan stepped down after Israel finished fourth in their World Cup qualifying group. Then Under-19 coach Eli Ohana took temporary charge, and guided the side to a friendly victory against Romania earlier this month.
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