Israel’s soccer governing body on Wednesday announced it had picked Austrian former player Andreas Herzog — who scored a goal that kept Israel out of the 2002 World Cup, complained about hostility he felt in Israel, and reportedly asked for Palestinian support — to take over as coach of the national team.
The Israel Football Association’s professional forum made the choice during a meeting Monday.
His hiring for the job must now be approved by the board of governors. If Herzog’s appointment is approved, it will be his first time as chief coach for a national team.
Herzog, who played for Austria’s national team between 1988 and 2003, responded that it is a “great honor” and that he was confident of getting the full support of the soccer association, the IFA said in a statement.
Herzog was quoted as having said in the past that he never felt such hostility as when he was in Israel.
Herzog played for Austria against Israel in a 2001 game at the Ramat Gan stadium during which he scored a crucial goal in the final minutes, driving home a free kick. The 1-1 result prevented Israel from qualifying for the 2002 World Cup tournament, and meant Austria went through instead. Before the game he invited Palestinians to come and support his team against the Israelis, Ynet reported.
Over the past decade he has been assistant coach for the Austrian national team and coach of the national youth team. He also spent time as assistant to the US national team coach.
The coach position had been vacant for some ten months, since Elisha Levy departed in the wake of Israel’s loss to Russia in the qualifying stages of the 2018 World Cup. Youth team coach Alon Hazan had stepped in as acting coach.
Next month the Israeli national team has two games lined up, against Albania and Northern Ireland in the UEFA Nations League.