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Israel Aims for Comeback Against Belarus After Hungary Defeat, Celebrates Hostage Rescue

Blue-and-White Aim for Victory in Upcoming Match

After a tough 3-0 loss to Hungary in Debrecen on Saturday night, Israel's national soccer team is gearing up to face Belarus on Tuesday evening. This match will mark the second game for new head coach Ran Ben Shimon, whose debut was marred by three quick goals from Hungary within the first 22 minutes. Despite adjusting the defensive strategy, Israel couldn't recover.

Reflecting on the game, midfielder Ramzi Safouri, who entered the match after the third goal, acknowledged Hungary's strength and the learning curve for Israel's new squad. "We played against a very well-trained team and a very good team that will also be in the Euros. It's good for us to learn from the mistakes we make, certainly against teams that are really good," Safouri said.

Captain Eli Dasa, currently with Dynamo Moscow, noted the unexpected start but took positives from the improved play in the latter part of the game. "The positive that we can take is that both the coach and the squad were able to play much better over the final hour of the game," he explained.

Neta Lavi, now playing for Gamba Osaka in Japan, pointed out the early defensive issues that set Israel back. "For us, the game didn’t start well, of course. We received a big blow by the 20th minute when the score was already 3-0. We recovered from that so you can take some good things from that. We will have to learn some lessons so that this doesn’t happen again."

Defender Denny Gropper emphasized the need for better coordination. "We were a little late, we were a little naive. We made the changes the coach thought would help and after that we took control of the pace a little and calmed things down."

Looking ahead to the match against Belarus, the team is focused on improving from their performance against Hungary. "We came to play against Hungary and not defend and just sit back. We will definitely do that in the next game as well. We are coming to win," Gropper asserted.

Dasa added, "Against Belarus, we will continue with how we finished the last game and we want to start properly. We will have to slowly pick ourselves up step by step."

Lavi echoed the sentiment, stressing the importance of better coordination from the outset. "First of all, our coordination must be much better, certainly against Belarus, which is not a team at the level of Hungary."

In the midst of these preparations, the team also celebrated the rescue of four hostages from Gaza, which had a significant emotional impact on the players. "I can say that from where we were, there was joy that we hadn’t experienced for a long time in Israel," Safouri explained. "It’s a shame we didn’t get a good result that we could have dedicated to them. But regardless, we are so happy that they are back."

"We all want to thank the security forces involved in the heroic rescue operation. We were all excited and we really hope that all the hostages will return home safely," Lavi added.

Dasa shared his excitement upon hearing the news of the hostages' release. "As soon as we heard about it, there was such great joy. It was right after our pre-match meeting at lunch, people were going crazy. It’s just so exciting and I hope that we see another 120 pictures like we saw of the hostages with their families once again."

As Israel prepares for the upcoming match against Belarus, the team is motivated by both the desire to redeem themselves on the field and the uplifting news of the hostages' rescue. Share this article or subscribe to our newsletter for more updates on Israel's journey in international soccer.