Balili, Pini : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Balili, Pini

Pinhas Balili

Balili is the top forward prospect Israel has to offer following in the footsteps of Alon Mizrahi and Ronen Harazi in the vanguard of the Israel National team.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. June 18, 1979

Career Highlights:
As a 15-year-old, Balili helped Shimshon Tel Aviv qualify for the third division with his blistering runs. He then returned to Hapoel Tel Aviv, the team that first discovered him, but was not given a fair shot by the then coach Eli Cohen. Dror Kashtan gave the boy a second look, and he was instrumental in the team's 1999-2000 double win.

During the 2000-01 campaign, Balili excelled and proved himself a shining example of the new speedy and athletic forward prototype. That year, Pini scored nine league goals. In the 2001-02 season Pini was energetic as usual, but managed only five goals overall. Tel Aviv lost the championship to a superior Maccabi Haifa side.

A member of the Israeli national team since 2000 (Balili scored two goals in three matches that year), Pini has also made an impact in Israel's Euro 2004 qualifying. On October 12, 2002, in Israel's first match of the round, Balili scored the first goal and hit the post twice as Israel secured an important 2-0 victory over Malta. He scored against Malta again on September 9, 2003, but Israel lost all hope of qualification for Euro 2004.

In 2002-03 Pini helped Hapoel to a third place fnish with an eight goal campiagn during the first part of the season.

Hapoel enacted major wage cuts in the off season and Balili signed with Turkish club Istanbulspor. Pini's Turkish league debut was sensational. On August 10, 2003, he scored a beautiful chip as his team surprised city rivals Fenerbache 3-0. On December 6 he scored two goals in a sensational victory over top-team Galatasaray. Pini finished the 2003-04 season with 19 league appearances as a starter, 10 as a substitute and an impressive tally of 11 goals. The Israeli striker was often misused in the blatantly defensive setup used by the relegation threatened club. Balili's goals helped the club to finish 15th and stave off relegation.

The Israeli striker was let go by a financially troubled Istanbulspor and was picked up by the newly promoted Kayserispor team. Balili is expected to play an important part for the modest club in the 2004-05 season.

Origin:
Israel

Position:
Forward

Career Statistics:
12 caps/ 6 goals



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