LIVESTREAM: Italy hosts Israel to start IFAF Europe Qualifying Tournament

Team Italy is set to play Israel Friday in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy in the first of two IFAF Europe qualifying games to be held in Italy this weekend. In the other game Friday, Serbia and Switzerland square off.

The winners of these two games will play each other Sunday and move on to face either Sweden or Denmark in 2017 to earn a berth in the European Championship tournament in 2018 in Germany.

Israel defeated Spain 28-20 in 2015 to advance to this qualifier tournament.

AFI spoke with Israel head coach Yonah Mishaan on his team and match-up with Italy.

“Overall we are a average team with a very strong drive to succeed. Team Israel is made up of mostly Israeli born players and they come from many different background. Most of our players have only been playing for a few years. They are students of the game and we have a few players that have made it in the states at the D-3 level.”

Since the victory over Spain in September 2015, Israel has not seen any action again international opposition.

“We have practiced and have had few camps over the last couple of months. We have spent a lot of time and effort to prepare the team with film and a system which is simple but very efficient to on both sides of the ball.”

Israel has not only upgraded their roster but also their sideline talent.

“Our biggest upgrade is a our offensive coordinator Eric Cohu. Coach Cohu brings a lot of experience and X and O knowledge. What we lack is real game time on the field at this level but we will be a hell of allot better then last year.”

Italy automatically qualified for this tournament after finishing as the first runner up in the 2013 Group A Qualification in 2013. In that tournament, Denmark had qualified to play in the Group A tournament.

“They are much more experienced and have players that play in very competitive leagues, which we are lacking,” says Mishaan on Italy. “We have come a long way and you never know…”

Mishaan acknowledges that this game can be a major boost for the American football in Israel.

“The country is always behind it’s National teams and we have a big support group waiting to see us beat Team Blue (Italy). Cliches aside we really have accomplished a ton just by getting to Italy.”

Team Italy lost to France in an international friendly six weeks ago 23-15 and also dropped a close game to Switzerland in January of this year.

IFAF Europe - Group graphic

The other IFAF Europe qualifying tournament will be held in Great Britain on September 16. Great Britain will face Russia while Holland’s Dutch Lions play the Czech Republic.

Italy v. Israel – Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy, 2p CET (8a EDT)

John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.