Israeli officials were hopeful of Israel’s chances of qualifying for the 2024 European Championship soccer tournament in Germany after a favorable draw on Sunday.
Israel, which had managed to be placed in the pot of second seeds ahead of the draw thanks to its group win in the recent Nation’s Cup tournament, avoided most of Europe’s big names like England, France, Italy and Belgium.
Israel was drawn into Group I, along with Switzerland, Romania, Kosovo, Belarus and Andorra. The top two teams in each group will qualify, along with hosts Germany.
“We have worked hard to be seeded second and afford us a real chance of qualifying for Euro 2024,” said team manager Yossi Benayoun. “I don’t react to any draw as easy or hard because the real challenge only comes when you get out on the field.”
Team player Shon Weiss, who also plays for Spanish La Liga club Real Valladolid, said it was a good draw.
“More than ever I believe we have a real chance of making it to Euro 2024,” he told the Kan public broadcaster.”The identity of our opponents is important, but we are the ones who have to excel and do the work.”
Israel has never qualified for the European Championship and has not featured in a major tournament since the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
In other highlights from the draw, reigning champions Italy will be in a group that will face England, the team it beat in the final in 2021.
France will face the Netherlands in its qualifying group while Spain’s opponents will include Scotland and Norway.