In a historic match, Israel beat Japan 2-1 at the knockout round of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Argentina on Saturday night and will now face off against Uzbekistan on Tuesday night.
Shortly after Israel’s win, Senegal reached a draw in its match against Colombia, leading to its elimination from the game and securing both Colombia’s and Israel’s place in the round of 16.
“I want to say to all of Israel – we love you and we did it for you,” said the team’s manager Ofir Haim to KAN after the match. “We knew that everyone wanted us to do it. I told them, the entire State [of Israel] is behind you. I have no words, these guys have such heart and soul. The sky is the limit for us. We’re not afraid of any team.”
Japan took a 1-0 lead in added time at the end of the first half, but Israel’s Roy Navi evened the score in the 77th minute and substitute striker Omer Senior scored the winning goal of the match in the 92nd minute.
Israel’s Dor Turgeman celebrates after Senegal’s Babacar N’Diaye scored an own goal and the first for Israel. May 24, 2023 (credit: AGUSTIN MARCARIAN/REUTERS)
Israel played the final half-four with a 10-man team after substitute Ran Binyamin was sent off for two yellow cards.
Japan’s coach Koichi Togashi stated after the match, “I have regrets about my management [of the game]. I’m looking forward to seeing how the players will digest it. From here on out, I think I’ve come to the realization that I have to do more. We have to move forward as much as possible to become a powerhouse,” according to Japanese media.
Forward Isa Sakamoto, who scored the only goal for Japan, stated “It’s very frustrating. I can’t help but feel frustrated.”
“We were able to take the initiative and approach the goal, but I have the impression that we were defeated when there were fewer opponents and we were open.”
Israel’s first time in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup
This is Israel’s first time in the Under-20 World Cup. The competition was originally set to take place in Indonesia, but was moved to Argentina after Indonesia refused to allow the Israeli team to participate.
Up until this year’s Under-20 World Cup, the only goal Israel had scored in a major FIFA tournament was kicked by Mordechai “Motaleh” Spiegler against Sweden, in the Mexico 1970 World Cup.
Juan Melamed/JTA contributed to this report.