Last updated: 27 December, 2011

Israel names Guttman as new national soccer coach

The Israel Football Association on Tuesday named former Hapoel Tel Aviv manager Eli Guttman as the new national team coach, replacing Frenchman Luis Fernandez.

Fernandez’s contract was not renewed after he failed to lead Israel to the UEFA EURO 2012 finals.

“I am happy to announce the new coach of the Israel team,” the Israel FA quoted its chairman Avi Luzon as saying on its website. “The choice of Eli Guttman is not by chance, Eli is a professional with tactical discipline.”

“Today I am fulfilling half a dream,” Guttman said. “The second half will be fulfilled for all of us when we qualify for the World Cup.”

Israel, whose only previous World Cup finals appearance was in 1970, face Portugal, Russia, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in qualifying for the 2014 edition in Brazil.

Before leaving Hapoel in May, Guttman took the club to the league and cup double in 2009/10 and guided it into the UEFA Champions League group stage last season.

The 53-year-old’s first international encounter with Israel will be a friendly against Ukraine on 29 February.