Realistic about Israel's chances of progress, tournament ambassador Eli Ohana is nonetheless certain that hosting the UEFA European Under-21 Championship will be a "great experience" for the country.
A fine attacking player in his day, Ohana enjoyed success in his homeland, Portugal and Belgium – including lifting the European Cup Winners' Cup with KV Mechelen. Now coach of the Israeli U19s, the 49-year-old has assumed an ambassadorial role for this summer's final tournament. Israel will be competing in the U21 finals for only the second time and Ohana is determined they make the most of it.
"There is nothing better than a big tournament like this," he said. "The results may be good or not so good but the mere experience – meeting with the best players in this age group in the world – can give the players many tools in the process of moving into the senior national team.
I don't expect us to win the tournament, I don't even expect us to make it to the semi-finals, but surprises are always possible. With a little bit of luck we can be a sensation and reach the semi-finals.
"First of all, from Israel's point of view, hosting such a big and prestigious tournament is not something to be taken for granted. When you host such a big, widely covered event – an event expected to be seen by about 150 million people – and when you look at these players who will be the biggest stars in football, I think it is the highest of honours. It should be a great source of national pride."
View the full interview with Ohana in the video player above.
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