Celtic star Hatem Abd Elhamed struggled to impress as Israel succumbed to a 3-2 Euro 2020 qualifying defeat at Slovenia last night.
Israel had turned the game around after being 1-0 behind. However, lapses in concentration allowed the Slovenians to net two goals in the final 25 minutes to secure a crucial group G victory. Slovenia now sit ahead of Israel, who drop down to fourth.
Celtic hero Elhamed, who produced a terrific performance against Rangers in the Glasgow derby, unfortunately played his part in the defeat. The centre-back was caught out of position as Roman Bezjak snooped in to make it 2-2 on 66 minutes.
Elhamed had been playing on the left-side of a back three on the night. He played in the exact same position during their 1-1 home draw with North Macedonia on Thursday night.
And it’s fair to say that Israel boss Herzog was fuming with his defence post-match too. Here’s a look at how the Israel manager took defeat last night:
הריאיון המדהים של אנדי הרצוג, מאמן נבחרת ישראל אחרי ההפסד. תראו כמה אכפת לו. pic.twitter.com/hoN3bC6XEB
— Ran Boker רן בוקר (@ranboker) September 9, 2019
In the video, Herzog was angry with careless defensive mistakes that cost his team the game. Considering this was only Elhamed’s third cap for his country, it’s a worrying verdict from his manager, even if he wasn’t specifically targeted.
Elhamed will need picked up by Neil Lennon
Of course, the Israeli right-back didn’t put a foot wrong in the North Macedonia draw. He also isn’t a left-sided player, and you could therefore argue he’s playing slightly out of position.
But in any case, Neil Lennon will need to make sure he’s in a positive frame of mind upon returning. Elhamed has performed tremendously well for Celtic this summer. He’s been a key reason as to why we’ve won four Premiership games out of four, as he continues to impress in Scotland.
He’ll surely be given more international opportunities so long as he continues to impress at Parkhead. Nir Bitton, for example, has managed to rake in 23 international outings whilst being a bit-part player in Glasgow. Elhamed, meanwhile, has the potential to be something special.
It could even be worth playing Moritz Bauer this Saturday at New Douglas Park against Hamilton. Given the energy Elhamed will have put into this week combined with the traveling, he could do with a rest.
Celtic face Rennes in the Europa League on Thursday night too. It’s vital all of our international stars are ready to go for that one.
Meanwhile, Moritz Bauer deserves a chance to shine in the first-team after a solid debut as a sub against Rangers. Hopefully, Lennon gives him his chance before what we also hope will be a positive return for Elhamed in France.