Yulia Karra
June 5, 2023

Israel’s under 21 team stunned Brazil over the weekend, beating the soccer superpower 3-2 and reaching the FIFA World Cup semifinals in Argentina.

The Israeli team fell behind twice but came back on both occasions. The game went into extra time and 19-year-old center-forward Dor Turgeman eventually broke the stalemate, scoring a Maradona-esque stunner.

The blue-and-whites had an opportunity to solidify their lead later in the game after the referee awarded the Israeli team two penalties. But Ilay Madmon and Ahmad Ibrahim both missed in the second period of extra-time.

Ofir Haim’s team, however, was able to hold on to the lead for the rest of the extra time to reach the next stage of the competition, where the Israeli team will face Uruguay on Thursday evening for a chance to reach the final.

Haim later said the team dedicated the win to the three IDF soldiers who were killed by a terrorist on the border with Egypt just hours before the kickoff.

“We are happy to represent Israel in the advanced stages of the World Cup.  Preparations are already underway for what will be a challenging match against Uruguay on Thursday. We believe in our ability to qualify for the finals, and hope that we can continue to make an entire country proud,” spokesperson for Israel Football Association Eitan Dotan told ISRAEL21c.

The U-20 team is the first to qualify for the World Cup since 1970, when the senior national team made it to the group stages in Mexico. It did not make it to the knockout round.

The U-20 competition was embroiled in a scandal ahead of the start after the designated host country of Indonesia was stripped of the right to host the tournament just weeks before the first match. Locals had staged massive protests demanding a boycott of the Israeli team, so FIFA moved the event to Argentina.

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