Israel dreams of third-place finish in World Cup

Although under-20 national soccer team will play South Korea for third place with a short squad, coach Ofir Haim says team needs to ‘give our all to take this medal’
Nadav Zenziper, Argentina|
Israel’s magical Cinderella run in the FIFA U20 World Cup will come to a close Sunday evening when Ofir Haim’s men will take to the soccer pitch to face South Korea for third place.
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“I don’t think that anyone in this squad will get to play for the bronze medal in any other world championship again,” the Israeli coach told Ynet.
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אופיר חיים
אופיר חיים
Coach Ofir Haim
(Photo: Luis Robayo / AFP)
“Each one of them needs to go on the pitch with the mindset that this is the most important game of their lives. We’ll have to give our all to take this medal. Everyone on that field will have to give their 100%.”
The Blue and Whites will have a short squad for their last game of the tournament after technical manager Boni Ginzburg made a controversial decision to immediately release five starting players — goalkeeper Tomer Tzarfati, defenders Or Israelov, Stav Lemkin, and Roy Revivo, and forward Dor Turgeman — from the squad after their loss to Uruguay in the semi-finals.
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שחקני נבחרת הנוער של ישראל חוגגים נגד ברזיל
שחקני נבחרת הנוער של ישראל חוגגים נגד ברזיל
Under-20 national soccer team
(Photo: EPA/Marcelo Ruiz)
"It’s irrelevant who was released. We will do everything we can to bring the medal with whoever is here because it is more valuable than gold," added Haim.
"Of course, I wanted the whole squad to stay, but I learned about this talking to Boni two weeks ago and everything was agreed upon. Our goal is to promote the players to the senior national teams, and we are doing that and are very proud. Whoever is here will need to bring home the medal."
The Israelis will have only three substitutes on the bench for the game against South Korea and will play with a patchwork starting lineup.
“I don't have to lift the players up after the loss to Uruguay in the semi-finals. This is an excellent opportunity for them to show what they know, it's their place to prove it,' explained Haim.
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דור תורג'מן
דור תורג'מן
Star striker Dor Turgeman
(Photo: Luis Robayo/ AFP)
Dor Fuchs, who will start as a center back, said: 'It's always exciting, appearing in the World Cup is something we dream about, and I hope to experience it in the future in the senior team.
I waited for the opportunity and hope to prove myself tomorrow. My dad was here all the way, he flew with me, not every parent would do that and I appreciate and love him very much. It's true that there was a drop in tension, but we are coming to take the medal.
“I take from here the togetherness, we were always like that no matter what. The staff came and hugged us and said they believed in us. It's a great pleasure that part of the players joined the youth national team and Roy Revivo joined the senior team. It only shows how good and strong this team is.”
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