November 13 – Playing in their first match since Hamas militants attacked their country on October 7, Israel’s chances of reaching the European Championship finals have taken a significant downward turn after losing 1-0 to Kosovo in their delayed qualifying game.
The Group I match was originally scheduled for October 15 but was put back because of the Hamas-Israel conflict.
Although largely secular, Kosovo is more than 90% Muslim and many Palestinian supporters called on social media for Kosovo to ban the Israel team from entering the country.
However, Israel recognised Kosovo as a sovereign state back in 2020 and both countries have established diplomatic relations.
Nevertheless, many in the crowd booed and whistled Israel’s national anthem and the visitors went down to a 41st minute goal from Vedat Muriqi.
Israel’s woes were complete when they finished with 10 men after Roy Revivo was sent off in the 95th minute after picking up a second yellow card.
“Our country is more important than football,” Israel coach Alon Hazan told a press conference. “We cannot separate the war from us. But we have to play football and we want to represent our country very well. The chances (to reach the finals) still exist.”
Israel, aiming to reach their first Euros since becoming full UEFA members in 1994, will play their next two qualifiers, both ‘home’ games that were also rescheduled, in Hungary against Switzerland on November 15 and Romania three days later after UEFA barred them from hosting fixtures during the current conflict for security reasons.
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