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In major blow and upset, Israel loses to Macedonia 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

Ofer Eini, le président de l'Association israélienne de football
Ynet
Although coming off two straight defeats, Israel was heavily favored to win against the Macedonian team.

Israel’s national soccer team lost to Macedonia in Haifa stadium on Saturday night, in a major upset that significantly undermines any chance that the team had with advancing in the qualifying round for the 2018 World Cup.

Although coming off two straight defeats, Israel was heavily favored to win against the Macedonian team. However, Macedonia’s Goran Pandev scored the game’s only goal, helping his team to win by a slim margin of 1-0.

The mood of disappointment was very palpable in Haifa stadium as the home crowd booed loudly after the game, so much so that team captain Eran Zehavi tore off and threw his armband in frustration.

“When I heard the booing, my heart exploded,” Zehavi remarked at a post-game press conference. “For 40 years we haven’t made it to the World Cup, 40 years without advancing.”

Unfortunately for Zehavi, he is being suspended over the incident and will not travel with the team to its upcoming match against Italy this Tuesday. In explaining the decision to suspend Zehavi, Soccer Federation head Ofer Eini said that despite Zehavi’s apologies, “the Israeli team and values ​​of honor and sportsmanship are always above any result on the grass.”

While Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev also criticized Zehavi over the incident, she expressed appreciation for his regret.

“I am happy that Zahavi understood his mistake and quickly apologized” she said. “Such incidents should not be repeated on sports fields.”

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