Israel are to play an international fixture at home next week for the first time since October 2001.
First since March
The Israel Football Association (IFA) confirmed their national team will play Armenia in a friendly in Tel-Aviv on 12 February, preceded by an Under-21 fixture. No foreign team has played an official match in Israel since last March when a group of Hapoel Tel-Aviv players were caught up in an attack on a Tel-Aviv restaurant, although none were injured.
Both the senior and U21 Armenian squads have agreed to fly to play, the IFA said. Both fixtures will be staged at the 44,000-seat National Stadium, with ticket prices being kept to a maximum of €5 to attract fans.
Israel's last home international was a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Austria which finished 1-1 in October 2001. All Israeli club sides involved in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup this season have played their home matches on foreign soil following UEFA's ban on Israel hosting any club or national team matches because of safety concerns. Maccabi Haifa made Nicosia their base, while Hapoel Tel-Aviv and Maccabi Tel-Aviv played their UEFA Cup fixtures in Sofia and Florence.
Israel will still play their next two UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying Group 1 home matches away from the country. They play France on 2 April and Cyprus on 30 April, Slovenia and Malta complete the section. Israel coach Avraham Grant will name his squad to face the Armenians next Sunday with the visiting squad expected later this week.
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