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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep, 7, 2007

Ben Haim calls on Israel to cause Wembley upset

Tal Ben Haim has called on Israel to play the match of their lives at Wembley on Saturday to record a shock victory and dash England's hopes of reaching Euro 2008.

The Israelis are currently in second place in qualifying Group E, level on points with leaders Croatia but having played a match more than England.

When the two sides met last March in Tel Aviv, Israel earned a goalless draw, since when the pressure has continued to mount on beleaguered England head coach Steve McClaren.

Another disappointing performance this weekend in front of their own fans would draw more harsh criticism ahead of next Wednesday night's visit of Russia.

McClaren has seen his options limited by injuries to Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and David Beckham as well as doubts over Steven Gerrard and Owen Hargreaves - not to mention the suspension of striker Peter Crouch.

Ben Haim, though, believes there is plenty of strength in depth to the England squad, and knows it will be a tough ask for Israel to pull off a shock victory at Wembley.

However, the Chelsea defender feels they have it within themselves to do just that.

'I think everybody expects England to qualify because they have quality players,' said Ben Haim, who signed for Chelsea from Bolton during the summer.

'I can see the difference because I train with those players every day - but in one specific game, you never know and we will not give up before the game.

'It will be very hard, but you need to go beyond your ability as a team and then we hope to get a good result.

'Hopefully our mentality and the team spirit will be good enough.'

Ben Haim added: 'England have a lot of injuries, but if you see the players who are going to play against us it is still a fantastic team.

'Players like John Terry and Ashley Cole, Michael Owen - so it is still going to be very hard for us.'

No-nonsense defender Ben Haim has settled quickly into life at Stamford Bridge and would like nothing more than to head back to club duties with bragging rights over the England players such as John Terry, Ashley Cole and Lampard, who misses Saturday's match.

'I am looking forward to it, it is a massive game for Israel and a massive game for England. Everybody knows they need the points, just like we do,' said Ben Haim.

'Of course [at Chelsea] we have had a few jokes about the game, but all in a good mood.

'They started to laugh, and they know that it is a very hard game.

'England need the points, so they can make jokes before the game - but in match there will be no favours.

'They have desire and really want to win but it is exactly the same for me when I play for my country, I will give 100% and try to get a good result.

'I think they are confident, but we have our target as well. We want to do well in each game. If we play well against England and do well, it would be very good for us.

'On paper, England are the better team, but in one game over 90 minutes, nobody knows what is going to happen.'

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