Israel v Scotland: Steve Clarke faces familiar foes in qualifier

By Liam McLeod & Andy CampbellBBC Scotland
Kieran Tierney and Eran Zahavi
Eran Zahavi (right) has become a familiar foe to Scotland
World Cup qualifying Group F: Israel v Scotland
Venue: Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv Date: Sunday, 28 March Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio Scotland DAB/810MW/online; text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app; highlights on BBC One Scotland from 22:30

Scotland face Israel for the sixth time in three years on Sunday and if the past five meetings are anything to go by, the match will be tight.

On their maiden Nations League voyage in 2018 and in the shadow of Mount Carmel on Israel's Mediterranean coast, the Scots sank without trace. The 2-1 defeat inflicted on them in Haifa was flattering.

On the night, nothing went right for then-manager Alex McLeish as the Israelis came from a Charlie Mulgrew penalty down to win, with John Souttar's red card compounding matters.

James Forrest's mini goal-glut the following month, which included a hat-trick in the Hampden return, secured revenge for the Scots and a place in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final. The Scots did not know it at the time, but that too would be against the Israelis in October 2020, delayed from March.

Following those clashes with the Scots, Israel went on to finish second bottom of their Euro 2020 qualifying group, well behind Poland and Austria and Andreas Herzog resigned, fellow Austrian Willi Ruttensteiner taking over as head coach last year.

Israel pitched up in front of an empty Hampden to secure a 1-1 draw in Scotland's opening Nations League match in September and Ruttensteiner's team won the final group match against the Scots 1-0 in November.

However, in between times, Scotland triumphed on penalties in the European Championship play-off semi-final at Hampden to pave the way for their shootout win in Serbia, which secured a finals place.

Hibernian goalkeeper Ofir Marciano and Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton were selected in the squad for Israel's opening World Cup qualifiers against Denmark, Scotland and Moldova, though Bitton has reportedly withdrawn from the squad injured.

Marciano started as Denmark triumphed 2-0 in Tel Aviv's Bloomfield Stadium, where Scotland will visit on Sunday while Israel's two most reliable strikers formed the attack.

Players to watch

Eran Zahavi

The 33-year-old scored at Hampden in 2018 and 2020 and has netted 24 goals in 60 international appearances. Zahavi moved to PSV Eindhoven last summer and has registered 15 goals in 27 appearances for the Dutch side so far.

Moanes Dabbur

Callum McGregor, Liam Cooper and Moanes Dabbur
Dabbur (far right) holding off Callum McGregor and Liam Cooper

Celtic fans need no reminding of what the Hoffenheim striker can do. During his goal-laden spell with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Dabbur scored in both games against Brendan Rodgers' team in the 2018 Europa League, around the same time he was turning out against the Scots in the Nations League. The forward has seven goals for his country.

Manor Solomon

Manor Solomon
Solomon got Israel's winner over Scotland in November

The 21-year-old winger scored his only international goal so far with Israel's winner over Scotland in November and kept his place in the team for Thursday's loss to the Danes. His only other two goals this season were in Shakhtar Donetsk's Champions League home and away wins over Real Madrid.

Can you remember who played for Scotland in their first game against Israel?

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