Wednesday, September 27th | 12 Tishri 5784

May 31, 2023 8:33 am

Israel Advances to FIFA U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals After Stunning 1-0 Victory Over Uzbekistan


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A poster for this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup being held in Argentina. Photo: FIFA

Israel secured their spot in the quarter-finals of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup after a 1-0 victory against Uzbekistan on Tuesday at Mendoza Stadium in Argentina, in dramatic fashion.

This is the first year that Israel’s national soccer team is participating in the U-20 World Cup and the first time ever that it is advancing to the quarterfinals following a goal from substitute Anan Khalaili in the 97th-minute, giving his country a late win. Khalaili attempted a free kick into the net but the ball instead was knocked into the back of an opponent’s leg. The rebound landed again in front of Khalaili and that time he successfully kicked the ball into the net. The goal came after multiple failed attempts from both sides to score.

“I’m proud of my players, this was a tough game, a cup championship,” said the Israeli team’s manager Ofir Haim. “We didn’t have good production, we were not smart, but we showed a lot of character. We were better than them. It wasn’t a great game, but there was a ton of fight and heart.”

Israel will now face the winner of the Brazil-Tunisia match on Wednesday in the quarterfinals, set to take place on Saturday in San Juan. Haim said his team will be ready for either opponent.

“Firstly, believe it. We have a great national team. We are special and I truly believe that,” he told reporters, according to The Times of Israel. “Whoever comes next is welcome, we’ll prepare, we’ve got a day off, we’ll get ready and try to make it to the semifinal.”

Khalili also said he is ready to take on the very skillful Brazilian team. He explained, “Brazil? Anything is possible. We’ll watch some tape on them, we can do it, we’re not suckers, we’re not less good than anybody. We proved that.”

The team from Israel lost its first match in this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup 1-2 to Columbia, tied with Senegal 1-1 during their next game and then beat Japan 2-1 on Saturday — their first ever win in a FIFA World Cup. Israel’s only previous performance in the main World Cup, in 1970, ended without a single win, according to The Times of Israel.

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