Israel boss discusses Hibs' Ofir Marciano's international future
The 29-year-old was handed a first start for his country in over two years when he was named in the team to face North Macedonia in Beersheba last week after impressing in training, and the Easter Road No.1 helped Israel to a 1-1 draw. He retained his place for the trip to Slovenia on Monday night, and despite Israel conceding an injury-time goal to lose 3-2, impressed the coaching staff sufficiently to hold onto the gloves for the Blue and Whites' trip to the Ernst-Happel-Stadion to play Austria on October 10.
The former Ashdod No.1 could also retain his place for the home match with Latvia five days later. Speaking after the last-gasp loss to Slovenia, head coach Andy Herzog said: "Marciano was huge. He admittedly conceded three goals but 100 per cent saved five more."The Israeli media also praised Marciano's performance in Ljubljana while Israel goalkeeping coach Klaus Lindenberger spoke highly of the Hibs goalkeeper's performance against North Macedonia. He said: "Ofir had a great performance. Bringing him in for [previous starting goalkeeper] Ariel Harush is something we had to do."
Both goalkeepers had an equal chance of starting both matches, according to the Israeli coaching staff.Some training sessions prior to the North Macedonia game had been set up with the assumption that Harush would be starting in goals. Marciano added: "It's great to be back in the starting line-up, it's something I've worked very hard for and aimed for. "From the day I arrived in Israel I changed tack and decided to train as if I was preparing myself to play, regardless of the coaches' decision."Prior to the matches against North Macedonia and Slovenia, Marciano's last appearance for Israel came in a 4-0 loss to Spain in Gijon in March 2017. He is now in line to win his 14th cap next month having made his debut in 2014.