Shortly before the game, the Israeli national coach Willibald “Willy” Ruttensteiner, by his own admission, almost thoughtlessly hummed the Austrian national anthem. She is very familiar to the 57-year-old Upper Austrian, he was also the sports director of the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) for many years. “But of course I had to remain objective and control my emotions,” joked Ruttensteiner after the game. He was perhaps the only one of around 8.9 million Austrians who saw something positive in the 2: 5 embarrassment of the national team against Israel in Haifa.
Ruttensteiner has been the national coach of the Israeli soccer team since July 2020, previously he was the sports director of the association there. In qualifying for the World Cup, his team lost 2-0 to Denmark and played 1-1 against Scotland. Since then, however, there have been three scoring and eventful victories: 4: 1 in Moldova, 4: 0 in Faroe Islands – and now this 5: 2 (3: 1). “I would never have thought that we would score five times against Austria,” said Ruttensteiner, also overwhelmed because the combination of the hits looked like a five-man selection for goal of the month.
From 1999 to 2017 Ruttensteiner was with the ÖFB, the last 16 years as head of sport. The win could have sparked sweet feelings of satisfaction in him after he was dismissed from the association in Vienna in autumn 2017. The table in World Cup qualification group F could develop even more painfully than this 2: 5 slap for his former employer – namely if the Austrians, who are now only fourth, should not even make it, behind Denmark, after that 1-0 in Faroe Islands with five wins clearly leads to the second place that would offer the possibility of a playoff for the 2022 World Cup. Israel is now second, and Scotland (1-0 against Moldova) has moved past as a new third. A win against the Scots is almost essential for Austria on Tuesday evening in the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna.
A performance like the one in Haifa can then no longer allow the team of the German ÖFB coach Franco Foda. Israel led 3-0 after 32 minutes, because Shakhtar Donetsk’s Manor Solomon slid like a dream from the left corner of the box into the right corner (1-0/5), because the Hoffenheim striker Munas Dabbur dusted off to 2-0 (20th), and because Israel’s record goal scorer Eran Zahavi (PSV Eindhoven) got the ball at the center line from Austrian defender Aleksandar Dragovic on the silver platter and pushed it in after 40 meters solo to make it 3-0.
The fact that Christoph Baumgartner (42nd) and Marko Arnautovic (55th) shortened to 2: 3 did not have any turning effect, because the former king of the Austrian Bundesliga, Shon Weissman (58th / former Wolfsberger AC), and again Zahavi (90th) .) increased for Israel. The fact that numerous key players such as Marcel Sabitzer, Xaver Schlager, Sasa Kalajdzic, Julian Baumgartlinger and Stefan Lainer were absent from Austria was not enough as an excuse. “We’re not allowed to get five goals against Israel like that,” complained goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, “it was a catastrophe today.”
Israel is hoping for its second World Cup participation since 1970.
Two and a half months ago, the Austrian team had made a good, stable impression against the eventual tournament winners Italy (1: 2) when they lost in extra time. “But in the last few days we have unfortunately not been able to build up an atmosphere like a few weeks ago,” said David Alaba, Austria’s flagship footballer who moved from Munich to Madrid, after the 2: 5 on the left on the far left in a five-man chain.
Born in Mainz, Foda, 55, has been Austria’s trainer since autumn 2017, when coach Marcel Koller and sports director Ruttensteiner had to leave with a double blow. Despite the worsening situation in the World Cup qualification, the no longer undisputed Foda analyzed the failure of Haifa objectively: “We made too many mistakes in the forward movement and were countered. The opponent was also very efficient.”
Foda has already survived a comparable disgrace in the same stadium once, in March 2019 they lost at the start of the later successfully designed European Championship qualification against the Israelis coached by the Austrian Andreas Herzog 2: 4 – scorers also then: Zahavi (3) and Dabbur and Arnautovic (2). Israel dreams of qualifying for a World Cup for the second time since 1970, but will have to go to front-runner Denmark on Tuesday.