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Ben Shimon Eager to Make Blue-and-White Debut

Israel's New Head Coach Aims to Revitalize National Team

The Israel National Team is gearing up for a fresh chapter with two upcoming soccer friendlies against Hungary on Saturday and Belarus on Tuesday. Leading the blue and white for the first time is the newly appointed head coach, Ran Ben Shimon, who is eager to bring his vision to the team.

Following several disappointing campaigns under previous leadership, the Israel Football Association has turned to Ben Shimon, a seasoned coach with extensive experience both in Israel and abroad. At 53, Ben Shimon boasts a rich history in football, having played for the Israel National Team and clubs like Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Haifa, where he captained the team to a league championship in 1999. His coaching career includes notable successes, such as leading Kiryat Shmona to an unexpected league championship in the 2011-2012 season.

Ben Shimon's international coaching stint included managing the Cyprus National Team from 2017 to 2020. His return to Israel saw him take charge of several top clubs before his current appointment as the head coach of the national team.

Ahead of the friendlies, Ben Shimon expressed his dedication to his new role, describing it as a mission. "The Israel National Team is not just another stop for me it’s a mission, and I will go into every working day treating it as the most important day," he said. He emphasized the importance of professionalism both on and off the field, aiming to instill a strong sense of responsibility and pride in the players.

Ben Shimon acknowledged the competition for the head coach position, including the candidacy of Barak Bachar, but expressed confidence in his selection. "Coaches who were deserving of this position were in competition for it and I don’t feel second to anyone. I believe in my abilities to do different things than what was done in the past."

Looking ahead, Ben Shimon outlined his goals for the team, which include competing in the upcoming Nations League campaign against European heavyweights like France, Italy, and Belgium, and ultimately preparing for Euro 2028. He is determined to create a winning mindset and a team that connects with the Israeli people. "We will not give up any game. That’s the beauty of sports you don’t know what the outcome will be at the end."

Ben Shimon is also focused on assembling a strong coaching staff and fostering a collaborative environment. He values players with European experience but maintains that the team is open to all talented individuals. He also addressed the importance of creating a supportive environment for players, referencing past issues such as the controversy surrounding Eran Zahavi’s hotel room assignment.

Reflecting on his journey, Ben Shimon shared, "When I was a player, I didn’t think I would become a coach. All the stations I went through come back to me. While I am an emotional person, I am less concerned with the past and I am not very nostalgic. From here on it is a matter of seeing what we can do to succeed."

Ben Shimon's enthusiasm and strategic approach bring a renewed sense of hope and anticipation for Israel’s National Team as they prepare for their upcoming matches and beyond.

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