Israel’s 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign got off to a poor start Friday with a 1-1 away draw against group stage rival Azerbaijan.
The game started off promisingly when midfielder Bebras Natcho hit the target from 35 meters to give Israel the lead in the 35th minute. But 14 minutes later Ruslan Abishov beat goalkeeper Dudu Aouate to equalize.
The blue and white’s new head coach Eli Gutman said he was disappointed as he had expected a win. Azerbaijan is considered the group’s weakest team.
“On the other hand, it is not the end of the world,” said Gutman. “We played on a tough field and I am sure other teams will lose points here too. All in all I am very satisfied with the players’ effort.”
On Tuesday, Israel hosts Russia while Azerbaijan travels to Portugal. Luxembourg and Northern Ireland are also in the group.
“We are still dreaming of reaching the finals and will do everything to beat Russia,” said Gutman.
Israel’s team captain Yossi Benayoun said it would be “a disaster’ if Israel lost to Russia.