Celtic duo Nir Bitton and Liel Abada's Israel appear to be in crisis after Scotland defeat

By David Walton

October 10, 2021

Celtic duo Nir Bitton and Liel Abada appear to be part of an international camp in crisis after Israel lost at Hampden to Scotland last night.

A dramatic night in Glasgow saw Steve Clarke’s side effectively put one foot in the playoffs for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It all came courtesy of a 3-2 win in which Israel led twice on the night before caving in by conceding a late goal in added time.

Unsurprisingly, it was the backline that let the Israelis down once again. Their quality in the final third showed via goals from Eran Zahavi and Munas Dabbur. But defensive errors cost them badly, despite an all-round solid performance from Celtic man Bitton.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

And now it appears he and Abada – who spent the 90 minutes on the bench – are part of a camp that’s in disarray. Reacting to the game via the Scottish Sun, Zahavi spectacularly blamed the defenders for throwing everything away:

“I’m tired of saying the same things in interviews after the match when we have lost. We do not know how to defend. Every time we retreat on the pitch, it’s just a matter of when we will concede. We kept going backwards and we shouldn’t have done that because the coach told us to attack Scotland.”

Israel midfielder Bibras Natkho even suggested that it was time for a “new generation” to be given a shot after consistent failures from the current crop.

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As quoted by the Scottish Sun, Natkho said: “I don’t know if Scotland deserved to win or not, but we didn’t play well enough in the second half. That’s 12 years now I have waited in this team for qualification so it’s hugely disappointing. Maybe it’s time for a new generation to try.”

A new qualification campaign for Israel should have Bitton and Abada at the centre of it

There’s no denying that Israel are a footballing country on the up. The talent they have is vastly underrated, and it won’t be long before they’re competing seriously as a pot three team.

However, Celtic pair Bitton and Abada should be two of the players looking forward to the next campaign for Euro 2024. Nir was a solid standout for Israel against Scotland and has generally been one of their tidier performances throughout the World Cup qualifying campaign.

As for Abada, he’s impressed in a couple of Israel cameos already. His move to Celtic has been a high-profile one and has massively boosted his stock back in Israel. It won’t be long before his opportunities start arriving.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Granted, you can see why it would look tricky for Liel in particular. Dabbur, Zahavi, and Manor Solomon won’t be going anywhere. But there’s no reason the summer Celtic signing can’t put himself in the picture to compete.

It was disappointing not to see him come on for Israel last night when they needed some fresh legs in the final third. What happens to manager Willibald Ruttensteiner will also be interesting in the coming months.

But it’s clear Bitton and Abada’s current camp have reached crisis point after another morale-draining blow. Not that it should harm their own individual international futures in way of course.

In other news, Airdrieonians want to sign Kerr McInroy permanently if he leaves Celtic