Patience pays off as Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano ends international wilderness

Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano last night made his first appearance for Israel in two-and-a-half years.

Friday, 6th September 2019, 6:00 am
Ofir Marciano is back as Israel's first choice
Ofir Marciano is back as Israel's first choice

The 29-year-old played the full 90 minutes of the 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifying tie against North Macedonia in Beersheba.

It represented the keeper’s first appearance for his national team since he played in a 4-1 defeat by Spain in a World Cup qualifier in March 2017, at a time when Hibs were still in the Scottish Championship.

Marciano has been in and out of the Israel squad throughout his three years at Easter Road and has had to wait patiently to win his 12th cap. His wife Shelly tweeted before the match: “So proud of my love for starting tonight for Israel’s national team. You deserve it! Very happy to see how your hard work has paid off.”

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Marciano, who has re-established himself as Hibs’ first-choice goalkeeper since returning from injury last winter, will hope to keep hold of the gloves for Monday night’s qualifier against Slovenia in Ljubljana.

There was further positive news on the international front from a Hibs perspective as Glenn Middleton, the winger on loan from Rangers, scored in Scotland Under-21s’ 2-0 victory over San Marino. There was no such luck, however, for Ryan Porteous who took no part in the European Championship qualifier in Paisley.

The defender is in Scot Gemmill’s squad but was not included in the 18-man pool for last night’s match. It remains to be seen if he will play any part in Tuesday’s qualifier away to Croatia. Porteous has been an unused substitute in each of Hibs’ last two matches after returning from a serious knee injury which had sidelined him since January. His only competitive game time so far has been a 90-minute outing for Hibs Colts against Elgin City in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup last month. Manager Paul Heckingbottom stressed last week that it will take some time before Porteous is able to operate at his peak.

Hibs midfielder Vykintas Slivka, meanwhile, is in line to play for Lithuania against Ukraine in their Euro 2020 qualifier in Vilnius tomorrow.