There is a new look to the Israel Under-21 squad after coach Motti Iwanir named his party for the friendly against Serbia on 19 November with one eye on the future.
A month on from missing out on a berth at the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in a play-off defeat by Italy, Iwanir is already rebuilding for the 2011 edition, hoping to return Israel to the competition they graced in 2007. "It's a good feeling to build right from the start ahead of a new task," said the 44-year-old, who replaced Guy Levy halfway through qualifying for next summer's continental showcase. "The U21s have had two amazing campaigns, including a historic appearance in the finals, so obviously we were disappointed to miss out."
Israel will find out in December if they qualify automatically for 2011 as hosts, but either way Iwanir has faith in his charges: "This team has a blend of youth, experience and is an excellent generation of players. I'm not sure if it is the best we've had but it's certainly one of them." Among the promising emerging talents in the squad are Maccabi Haifa FC duo Eyal Golsa and Muhamad Gdir, though highly-rated FC Barcelona B team starlet Guy Asulin has not been called up following a special request by his club. Strikers Ben Sahar and Toto Tamuz are the sole survivors of the group that travelled to the Netherlands, meanwhile, with Hapoel Haifa FC centre-back Oded Elkayam adding further experience after missing out last summer.
Goalkeepers: Ariel Harosh (Beitar Jerusalem FC), Daniel Lifshitz (Maccabi Netanya FC), Robi Levkovic (Hapoel Bnei Lod FC).
Defenders: Oshri Roash (Hapoel Haifa FC), Oded Elkayam (Hapoel Haifa FC), Orel Dgani (Maccabi Netanya FC), Rahamim Checkul (FC Ashdod), Nisso Kapiloto (Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC), Israel Rosh (Hakoah Maccabi Amidar Ramat Gan), Rami Gershon (Hapoel Ironi Rishon LeZion FC), Mark Gorman (Hapoel Petach-Tikva FC).
Midfielders: Bebars Natcho (Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC), Almog Cohen (Maccabi Netanya FC), Snir Goata (Maccabi Netanya FC), Dor Malul (Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC), Eyal Golsa (Maccabi Haifa FC), Liad Elmaliach (Maccabi Haifa FC), Avi Rikan (Hapoel Petach-Tikva FC), Amir Lavi (FC Ashdod).
Forwards: Ben Sahar (Portsmouth FC), Muhamad Gdir (Maccabi Haifa FC), Dela Yampolski (Maccabi Netanya FC), Toto Tamuz (Beitar Jerusalem FC), Omer Damari (Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC), Dudu Biton (Hapoel Ra'anana FC).
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